A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
This variety of the herb is a deciduous perennial plant which normally grows to reach a height of about a foot or 30 cm when fully mature. The American ginseng is characterized by having oblong to oval leaflets borne on a smooth stem; the plant also bears a large number of small and greenish colored flowers, and gives out scarlet berries which are peculiarly kidney shaped in structure.
Female fertility was thought to be increased by eating this herb in the Native American culture and many native peoples used this herb for that purpose. Once international trade with China picked up around the middle of the 18th century, a virtual gold rush ensued as an insatiable market for this herb was found in China and the herb was exported there, settlers of that early era report that entire villages of Native Americans would go out collecting the herb leaving whole villages almost deserted in the mad rush to find the herb. Replanting of seeds from collected herbs was not universal practice, though some native tribes like the Ojibwa people had a tradition of planting seeds to replace herbs collected in the wild. By the turn of the century, and toward the end of the 19th century itself, the wild American ginseng became a rarity due to the ginseng herbal trade with China.
Milder in its effects compared to the Chinese variety, the American ginseng is still though to posses a similar beneficial action such as that possessed by the Chinese ginseng and it is used in all herbal roles in which the Chinese variety is normally utilized. The tolerance of the body to any stress is increased markedly by taking the American ginseng. The main role of the herb is as a yin tonic in the traditional Chinese system of medicine, it is used primarily in the treatment of physical weakness in the body of patients, in the treatment of conditions such as fever, in treating wheezing, and in the treatment of coughs in affected patients.
More often, herbal medicine practitioners recommend American ginseng, the ginseng species belonging to North America, for treating health problems endured by relatively young patients. While people in some regions of North America, grow this species in the form of a medicinal herb, often American ginseng is also gathered from their natural habitat. The root of this herb possesses cardiotonic, adaptogen, panacea, demulcent, sialagogue, tranquilizing, stomachic and tonic properties. Generally, American ginseng is recommended for treating conditions like exhaustion owing to persistent consumptive disease, impulsive perspiration or sweating during the night and low-grade fever. It is believed that taking this herbal remedy for a prolonged period of time helps to enhance physical performance and mental efficiency, at the same time assisting the body to adjust to stress and low or high temperatures.
However, it is advisable that people using American ginseng for their conditions should take some precautions, because taking this herb in excessive dosages may result in high blood pressure (hypertension). American ginseng also has the aptitude to invigorate as well as unwind the nervous system, enhance stamina/ endurance, promote hormone secretion, reduce the levels of blood sugar as well as cholesterol, and also fortify the immune system against diseases. This herb is also taken internally to treat conditions related to ailments and/ or old age, loss of appetite, stress, insomnia, persistent ailments and even shock.
Nevertheless, this herb is not recommended for women during pregnancy, and for people who are enduring severe anxiety, depression and/ or serious inflammatory ailments. This herbal remedy is just taken for three weeks. Taking it for a prolonged period or in large amounts may lead to headaches, restiveness, high blood pressure, and additional unpleasant side effects, particularly if this medication is taken in conjunction with alcohol, caffeine, spicy or bitter foods and turnips. It has been found that taking ginseng saponins in dosage of 10ug/ ml protects one considerably from radioactive emissions, especially when the medication is given before the individual is exposed to gamma-irradiation. The leaf of American ginseng possesses expectorant and emetic properties.
Practitioners of herbal medicine recommend American ginseng for treating an assortment of health disorders ranging from nausea to vomiting to even love potions. This is because this herb has tonic as well as aphrodisiac consequences. In fact, physicians have recommended American ginseng for no less than 2,000 years for use in the form of a tonic that extends life span and a panacea for several ailments. This herb is also an adaptogen that works to regularize the functioning of the body and helps us to prevent mental as well as physical stress. In addition, American ginseng also accelerates the functioning of the different systems and organs of our body. As it possesses anti-inflammatory attributes, American ginseng is effective in treating arthritis.
The leaves as well as the roots of American ginseng are used to prepare a tea. In addition, the fragrant root of this herb is also used in making candy and also used for mastication (chewed to promote secretion of saliva).
Habitat and cultivation
This variety of the ginseng grows in many parts of North America and also in some areas of the Himalayan region. The sighting of this plant in the wild is now a rarity as this woodland plant has been subjected to over harvesting down the centuries. The American ginseng is now commercially cultivated in many places, and cultivation occurs in the American state of Wisconsin, it is also cultivated in France and in China as well. Autumn is the season, during which the roots of the American ginseng are gathered for processing and sorting before storage and sale.
The American ginseng plant needs damp soil that is rich in humus content. It thrives well in shady locations in forest lands. In addition, this species needs deep shade and grows excellently in woodlands as well as slopes facing the north. Although the American ginseng is believed to possess lesser therapeutic properties compared to the Korean ginseng (botanical name Panax ginseng), it is generally cultivated in the form of a medicinal plant. This herb is mainly exported from North America to Hong Kong.
This species is generally propagated by means of its seeds, which need to be sown in a cold frame in a shady place. Ideally, the seeds should be sown immediately when they are mature or immediately after you obtain the seeds. The seeds of American ginseng germinate inconsistently and very slowly. After the seedlings become sufficiently large and it is possible to handle them, prick the seedling out and plant them again in separate containers/ pots. In any case, continue growing the young plants in a shady place in a frame or a greenhouse for their first winter. Grow the plants in reasonably large pots with a view to ensure that they have ample room for the roots. Transplant the herbs outdoors in their permanent locales during the latter part of summer. If you wish to propagate American ginseng through root division, it should be undertaken during spring.
Chemical analysis of the American ginseng has revealed that its main constituents include ginsenosides as well as polysaccharide glycans (also called quinquefolan A, quinquefolan B, and quinquefolan C). In fact, compared to its Asian relative, the American ginseng seems to be more comforting. On the other hand, the Asian ginseng possesses stimulating attributes.
Dosage regimens for different varieties of ginseng differ and depend on the chemical constituents of the variety, for example, the standardized herbal extracts of the best researched forms of the ginseng herb contain approximately 4-7% of the chemical compounds called ginsenosides per plant. The effectiveness of some of the more concentrated herbal extracts can sometimes be much lower due to a reduction in the levels of the compound called panaxan - which is another compound normally found in the ginseng. Normally doses for most persons consist of taking about 100-200 mg of the herbal extract daily during the supplemental period. The intake levels of the non-standardized herbal extracts need to be significantly higher due to the lower active compound content, the dosage regimen of the non-standardized herbal extracts are typically 1-2 grams of the extract taken once every day in the form of tablets, if preferred about 2-3 ml of the fresh herbal tincture can also be taken daily instead of tablets. Rest periods between the supplemental regimen is ideal when taking ginseng, normally the herbal extract is taken for two to three weeks on a regular basis, this is punctuated by a one to two weeks rest period, following which the supplementation can be resumed.
Side effects and cautions
The ginseng is one of the safest herbs for supplemental use, and when taken at the recommended dosages, safety is almost guaranteed. There are a few exceptions and in some individuals over stimulation of the body can result in rare instances, insomnia is another possible side effect in those using the herbal extract at extremely high doses. The risk of disturbing the gastrointestinal system and over stimulation of the body substantially increases when people consume caffeine with supplemental ginseng - this practice is not recommended. Ginseng should also be avoided by all individuals who tend to suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure problems. Menstrual abnormalities can be caused in some women who are use ginseng in the long term, in these women breast tenderness may be another side effect particularly if the supplementation has been for a very long period of time. Nursing women and women in a term of pregnancy are advised against using the ginseng in any form.
Collection and harvesting
The roots of American ginseng are collected during autumn from plants that have been in existence for about six to seven years. You can use these roots fresh or dry them for future use.
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