Ginseng is more than just an aphrodisiac as is commonly believed by many people. In fact, there are as many as 11 species of Ginseng that fall under the Panax genus, of which Panax Ginseng and Panax Quinquefolius are of primary importance to us. The former variety is typically found in Asia (China, Korea and Siberia), whereas the latter can be found growing on American soil.
The botanical name of this plant, panax, is itself quite revealing, as the word is derived from the Greek word, panacea, which means an all healing restorative. Apart from this, ginseng has some remarkable curative powers that have made it an important part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Typically, the root of the Ginseng plant is taken for various purposes. Ginseng is an adaptogen, which means that it fortifies the body’s resistance and promotes general health and vitality. Traditional Chinese medicine holds the belief that each type of ginseng has its own specialty. American ginseng is known for its cooling properties and is useful in curbing fevers, while Asian ginseng is the opposite and provides heat, thereby improving circulation.
Benefits of ginseng
Here’s a look at some of the ways in which ginseng can be beneficial when used as a medicine:
- Sharper mental processes – Ginseng is an adaptogen, and because of that, it sharpens mental processes and increases resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stress. It helps people think better on their feet, and they are less prone to being tired.
- Better immunity – Ginseng helps people build better immune systems and makes them more resistant to common colds and other such illnesses that affect our normal lives and our productivity.
- Aids diabetics – Ginseng is also known to be helpful for people suffering from diabetes. Studies have shown how people who just been diagnosed with diabetes showed a vast improvement when given a 200 mg dose of ginseng for a period of eight weeks.
- Prevention of cancer – Certain cancer cells can be prevented from forming with the consistent use of ginseng. Ginseng contains specific substances called ginsenosides which are potent chemical compounds believed to even cure cancer in certain cases.
- Lowering cholesterol – Ginseng is one of the best herbal ways to lower the cholesterol levels in the body. When taken regularly over a period of time, it is known to act positively on high cholesterol levels, resulting in positive effects.
- Erectile dysfunction – One of the most common problems that men suffer from is erectile dysfunction. Research studies have shown that around 60% of all men have noted improvements with the regular usage of ginseng.
- Promotes vitality – Dullness and tiredness are symptoms that most people go through every day thanks to the tedium of every day work. However, with the regular usage of ginseng, users have found that it alleviates stress and improves the mood.
- Increased fertility – Ginseng is known to directly act upon the central nervous system and the gonadal tissues, which in turn promotes the production of sperm in males and lengthens the ovulation window in females. Of course, these studies are yet to take off because they have been conducted on mice, but the ideas behind these studies are quite revolutionary.
It’s always advised that pregnant and nursing women avoid ginseng. Also, people who have illnesses related to hormones such as endometriosis, fibroids, and even cancer related to the female reproductive system should avoid ginseng as it can boost estrogen levels.
Diabetics should take ginseng only under a doctor’s supervision, as it can lower blood sugar levels. Furthermore, people suffering from insomnia should avoid it, as it can only aggravate the problem. Some of the typical side effects of ginseng include agitation, diarrhea, insomnia, headaches, palpitations, and high blood pressure. Ginseng is a non toxic herb, but it should be used within it limits nevertheless.
How to use ginseng
Although ginseng is an herb, it is the root which is important and is used in medicinal preparations in many forms. Apart from fresh ginseng, the dried, treated, and cured form is also used in many cases. Ginseng is also available as a powder or extract which can be mixed in boiling water and consumed as a tea. Ginseng tea can also be prepared by pouring boiling water over thinly sliced fresh ginseng. The easier option is to simply take it in a capsule form every day or as required.
Ginseng powder or capsules are available at herbal stores, while the natural root form can also be purchased. When purchasing a fresh root, make sure you buy those which are firm and do not have soft spots or any discoloration. Typically, the dosage should be around 200 mg a day, and ginseng should not be used for more than three weeks at a time, followed by a rest period of a week or two.
Please bear in mind that ginseng does not figure in conventional medicine. If you have a health condition for which you are taking medication, then you need to verify with your doctor as to whether it is safe for you to take ginseng, considering that it may have adverse effects when used in conjunction with certain medicines.