A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Among all the Chinese herbs, the fame of the Chinese ginseng is the greatest and it is the most valued in the herbal lore of China. Indeed, the value place on the Chinese ginseng herb goes back to the very dim beginnings of Chinese history itself, to a time when even wars were fought in ancient China for control of forest where the herb grew wild, this herb has been esteemed from about 7,000 years ago for its therapeutic benefits and has remained at the very pinnacle of herbal remedies in China from very early times. The western world's acquaintance and knowledge of the herb's ability to boost the stamina and provide the body with increased resistance to stress was recognized pretty late, and the herb gained recognition only in the 18th century in much of the western world, though an Arabian physician brought the ginseng back from China and introduced it to Europe as early as the 9th century.
Root. ( In China dried root is chewed to provide an energy boost. )
The qualities of the ginseng herb as an organic adaptogenic agent vary and the herb has many beneficial actions on the human body. Chinese ginseng is known to promote energy and is believed to be very stimulating to the bodies of young people who are endowed with a strong qi - the Chinese equivalent of vital force - the action of the herb changes in those who are affected by illness or age, and in such people the herb assumes a tonic like and restorative effect, it may be even sedative in action in older or weaker individuals - thus the ginseng differs in its actions on different kinds of people.
The Chinese system of medication finds many uses for the ginseng herb, one of the roles of ginseng is to act as an aphrodisiac for men, the herb is also highly regarded for its role as a herbal stimulant and is best known and extensively used in this role, the herb is also used as a general herbal tonic for administration to athletes and is also given to those affected by physical stress, to boost their performance. The people inhabiting northern and central China start taking the ginseng remedies during late middle age and keep taking it for the rest of their lives, this is in accordance with the belief that the herb is a general tonic for old age and in this region it is supposed to enable people to endure the long hard winters by stimulating and boosting the performance of the human body.
The ginseng is viewed more as a life enhancing or connectivity herb in much of the Western world, and not an herbal medicine as such. People facing exams and high stress environments benefit the most from taking ginseng remedies and the herb greatly helps the individual coping with stressful events and circumstances. The total dosage period of any ginseng supplementation must not last longer than six weeks, this is often not followed and the ginseng herb is often abused in the West because people attribute all sorts of impossible beneficial effects to the herb.
Other medical uses
Habitat and cultivation
Almost extinct and extremely rare in the wild due to over collection down the centuries, the ginseng herb is a native of parts of eastern Asia, such as the region of northeastern China, parts of eastern Russia, and the country of North Korea. Without exception, all commercial ginseng is now cultivated, however the cultivation of the ginseng is a high skill operation and requires great training. The herb requires moist, rich and well drained soils to grow in, and the ginseng is normally propagated using stocked seeds in the spring. Full maturity takes at least four years by which time the plant is harvested. Autumn is the normal time for harvested the roots when full maturity is reached and all collected roots are first washed, and then subjected to being steamed, they are then dried and stored or sorted for the market.
Many countries have conducted extensive and thorough research on the properties of the ginseng, research has been primarily centered in China, in Japan, Korea and Russia, beside many other countries - many aspects of the herb have been covered in detail over the past two to three decades largely due to these studies. Confirmation of the remarkable "adaptogenic" quality of the herb - this is the ability to help the body in adapting to stressful situations, to physical fatigue, and to extremes of cold - was as a result of these studies. The capacity of the human body to deal with physical and mental stresses such as extreme or prolonged hunger, with fluctuating extremes of temperature - both hot and cold, and to mental and emotional stress or trauma is seen to be improved remarkably when ginseng was used on a trial basis, ginseng seems to make the body work at a higher level of performance and endurance in all test subjects. In bodies requiring rest and sleep, paradoxically, the ginseng was found to be capable of inducing a sedative effect and thus aids in relaxation and physical recuperation. Structurally the stress hormones produced in the body resemble the ginsenosides which are present in the ginseng herb - these active compounds are the main repositories of all the beneficial effects found in the herb. In addition, the results from numerous researches have shown that the functioning of the immune system and the resistance of the body to infection, and the functioning of the liver is markedly improved by ginseng.
Dosage of one ginseng product to another differs and individual doses can differ markedly. The standardized herbal extract of ginseng which are the most studied contain about 4-7% of the active compounds called ginsenosides and the amounts of these compounds may vary from one form of extract to the other. Due to reduced panaxan levels, some of the more concentrated herbal ginseng extracts might generally be less effective overall. Dosages of about 100-200 mg every day of the supplemental period is the normal dose for most people. Due to the lowered concentrations in non-standardized extracts, the corresponding dosage requirement is often higher and usually about 1-2 grams tablet form per person daily is needed; about 2-3 ml of the fresh herbal tincture form may also be taken instead. 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 week of "rest", 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 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.
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