When it comes to ginseng, the powers of this plant have made a mark on history for more than 5,000 years. Arab doctors to the King of Siam to Marco Polo to wealthy Europeans have all had a hand in spreading the knowledge regarding the powerful medicinal benefits of ginseng. With all the many uses for ginseng, there are three different roots to keep in mind when selecting dietary supplements and treatments.
What is Ginseng?
The three species of ginseng associated with most herbal supplements and treatments are: P. ginseng (known as Korean or Chinese ginseng); P. quienquefolius (also known as American ginseng); and P. pseudo-ginseng. In some circles, ginseng is also referred to as Panax ginseng and Siberian ginseng.
The ginseng plant is a perennial, which reaches a height of 3 feet. The leaves are oval and toothed, surrounding clusters of small yellow-green flowers. All species of ginseng are either sweet or slightly bitter. Containing vitamin D, saponins, and acetyleneic compounds, ginseng is known to act as an effective tonic and stimulant.
Out of all the Chinese herbs on the market, ginseng is one of the best known and famous of them all. The therapeutic benefits of this herb have been embraced close to 7,000 years. Throughout history, the herb became so valued that wars were actually found to sustain control of the forests where the herb was known to grow. During the 9th century, an Arab physician brought ginseng to Europe, but the uses that Americans associate with the herb today were not perfected until the 18th century.
Native to parts of Russia, China, and North Korea, ginseng grows in soil that is moist, well drained, and rich. It is quite rare to encounter the ginseng plant growing in the wild. After at least four years of maturity, the root is harvested during the autumn, followed by a wash and steaming before entering the drying process. When P. ginseng and P. quinquefolius is dried, a powder can be made, while the root of P. pseudo-ginseng can be sliced for use.
As a Dietary Supplement
Adult doses of ginseng can be received through 250 mg taken two-three times per day. During recovery from an illness, the elderly may take a 500mg ginseng supplement twice per day for three months . Additional dosing recommendations can be found below in the Proposed Uses section. Using ginseng dietary supplements to treat a child is not recommended because of the stimulating properties that it possesses.
Ginseng has the ability to reduce sugar levels in the blood; decrease cholesterol levels; lower stress levels; and stimulate the immune system. To increase your body strength for the next winter season, you should take P. ginseng for one month during the autumn season.
a) Boost Energy Levels & Treat Depression:
Adding 3-10 g of P. ginseng to two cups of water will create a decoction that is also known as a “yang” tonic. The tonic is known to restore energy levels, as well as treat the liver and spleen. Since the lack of energy is a big part of what makes some people feel down, ginseng can be used to treat depression. Taking one 500mg capsule per day may also be used to combat nervous exhaustion.
b) Digestive Problems:
P. ginseng tincture, which is made from soaking the root in vodka or rum, can be used to treat the diarrhea associated with digestive woes.
c) Reduce Stress:
Taking ginseng tablets is a great way to reduce short-term stressful situations, such as preparing for a job interview or in some cases, driving home for the holidays. In China, adding 1 gram of dried root per serving to vegetable soup is another great way to take the herb.
d) Breathing Problems:
Combining the P. quinquefolius root with mulberry bark creates a tincture that can treat weak lungs and chronic coughs. When adding walnut and ginger to a P. ginseng tincture, asthma and chronic coughs are treated. 1-2 grams of the P. quinquefolius powder can be used to make dietary supplements in capsule or pill form. These are then used to treat tuberculosis or other lung weaknesses. In China, this mixture also treats fevers.
When using P. pseudo-ginseng, 12 gram-doses of the powder form (pill or capsule) can be used to treat the bleeding or pain of wounds. During the Vietnam War, this species of root was used by the Vietcong to speed up the recovery rate of gunshot wound victims. The analgesic properties of this root have been known to cease both internal and external bleeding.
When pregnant, the use of P. pseudo-ginseng is not recommended because it has the ability to adversely affect the fetus of an unborn baby. Although P. ginseng has been used during pregnancy, taking high doses is not recommended. P. ginseng also has a reputation of reacting with other stimulants, such as tea, coffee, and cola sodas. You should also know that when taking ginseng on a regular basis, it is wise to enforce short breaks of 2-3 weeks every two months that pass.
Ginseng is also not recommended for patients suffering from high blood pressure. Before using ginseng dietary supplements, it is advised to contact your doctor, especially if you are taking various medications, such as sleeping pills, diabetic prescriptions, heart medication, or insulin .
Possible Side Effects
In some users, ginseng supplements has been known to cause nervousness and restlessness. In rare instances, mild diarrhea occurs. When taken too close to bedtime, the root may also keep you up all night. Whenever you experience any problems, such as tightness in the throat; chest pain; skin rashes; or itchy skin; it is time to cease taking the herb and pay a visit to the doctor.