Ginseng (Panex quinquefolius)
Once considered more vaulable than gold. Ancient cultures use to send their soilders into the forests in search of Ginseng.
It has been orally passed down that; if the soilders did not return with fresh Ginseng root, “they were of no use to the king and later disposed of.”
Valued for its remarkable therapeutic benefits for more than 7,000 years. Ginseng once so revered that; wars were fought over the control of the forests in which Ginseng thrived.
An Arabian physician brought Ginseng back to Europe in the 9th century, yet its ability to improve stamina and resistance to stress only became common knowledge in the West during the late 18th century.
What is it?
Ginseng (Panex) is one of the most valued (and expensive) medicinal plants. Originally apart of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the root is now widely consumed here in the West. (Mills & Bone 2000)
The word Panex is dervied from the Greek word ‘panacea’ and is said to mean “cure all”. (Mills & Bone 2000)
Since the 1960’s Ginseng has been the subject of ongoing scientific investigations.
Thanks to technological advances and science we now know that Ginseng has a wide range of pharmacological properties that suggest Ginseng might act in a unique way on the body.
Scientific research shows that Ginseng has a ‘whole body effect’, rather than a direct effect on specific organs or systems.
What is an adaptogen?
Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms that help your body respond to stress, anxiety, fatigue and overall wellbeing. You can take adaptogens by adding them to food or beverages or take them as tinctures.
Adaptogens bring your body back to a steady balance by managing both physical and mental stressors.
Ginseng has been researched in detail over the past 40-50 years in China, Japan, Korea, and Russia.
Its remarkable “adaptogenic” quality (helping the body to adapt to stress, fatigue, and cold) has been confirmed.
Trials show that Ginseng improves the body’s capacity to endure hunger, extreme temperature shifts, mental and emotional stressors.
Furthermore, this medicinal herb will produce a sedative effect when the body requires sleep.
The consitituent that is responsbile for this action is similar in structure to our body’s own stress hormone, making Ginseng an adaptogen and or tonic.
It’s almost as if Ginseng is communicating with our body and asking us “where can I lend a hand?”
What is a tonic?
A tonic herb is an herb that is meant to be used regularly over a long period of time, in order to support the body to stay in balance. While tonic herbs support our overall well-being, some herbs have a particular affinity for specific body systems such as the immune, detox, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
If you have ever worked with an herbalist or naturopathic doctor then you have probably heard us discuss “suppressing symptoms vs. identifying the underlying cause(s).”
Tonic herbalism is all about taking initiative every single day to care for your own well being.
From the water you drink, to the food you consume, the TV you watch, and even the people you allow in your life; all cause an effect on your health. It is your responsibility to take control of your health.
Why do I need Ginseng?
If you are struggling with stagnant energy, physical stress (athletes and weight training), or are looking for an alternative to caffeine and coffee then; Ginseng could serve as a restorative tonic while providing a stimulating effect, (mostly in younger people).
For the elderly or people weakened with illness, research shows Ginseng increases immune function and resistance to infections. (Chevallier 1996)
Two clinical studies reported that Ginseng or red Ginseng has good cognitive improvement effects in Alzheimer Disease (AD) patients as a supplementary treatment. Despite that, some contrary reports suggested that evidence is scarce for the efficacy of ginseng as an effective treatment in geriatric or AD patients. There is much evidence that supports the benefits of Ginseng as a medication for brain function, and more research is in progress.
Extensive research shows Ginseng being a superior male aphrodisiac.
“Data from animal studies have shown a positive correlation among ginseng, libido, and copulatory performances, and these effects have been confirmed in case-control studies in human.In addition, ginseng is found to improve the sperm quality and count of healthy individuals as well as patients with treatment-related infertility.These actions are mostly attributed to ginsenosides, the major pharmacological active components of ginseng.” (NIH September 2003)
Pregnancy and Lactation?
According to The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety by Mills and Bone, Ginseng is listed under safety category A.
Category A; which means no proven increase in the frequency of malformation or other harmful effects of the human fetus, despite consumption by a large number of women. (Mills and Bone 2005)
It is advised that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; that you work with your health care practitioner or lactation consultant before consuming Ginseng (in medicinal dosages), especially during the first trimester.
Category C: compatible with breastfeeding. (Mills and Bone 2005)
Ginseng is traditionally contraindicated in acute asthma, signs of heat, exessive mensruation, or nose bleeds.
As clinical implications of the effect of Ginseng on blood pressure are not clear, it should be avoided in clients with hypertension.
Warnings and Precautions
Concurrent use with stimulants such as caffeine and ampetamines, is best avoided. Overstimulation may occur in susceptible clients, especially at higher doses. (Mills and Bone 2005)
May interact with the monoamine oxidase inhibitor and phenelzine and also with warfarin. (Mills and Bone 2005)
Safety in children?
No clinical information is available, but adverse effects are not expected. (Mills and Bone 2005)
up to a 500 MG capsule; once a day for nervous exhaustion.
NOTE – Please be aware that capsules can vary in quality and proper dosage. The quality of the gelatin used to make the capsule can also have toxic petrochemicals in the gelatin. Please work with an herbalist who has has recieved his or her certificates of completions in an herbal studies program before purchasing.
Start with a small dose, better known as microdosing!
Strength : 1:2 tincture 1.5 mL to 5 mL. (daily)
(very important to known strength of tincture)
Start with 10-20 “drops” (not dropper full) 2-3 x a day to see how your body will react to the Ginseng tincture.
Herbal preparations are not one size fits all. Every single living, breathing, being on planet earth will react differently to not only how the preparation was made, but the amount of the herb needed to cause an effect varies in each individual. Some people might start to feel effects on a small dose of 10 drops, while others may need 50-75 drops to feel an effect.
Start with a small dose, better known as microdosing!
Where to purchase?
Ginseng is listed as an at risk spieces herb on UPS website. Because of this, it will also be more on the expensive side in the herbal market world.
To avoid over harvesting and adulteration of the herb or product, please purchase from an herbalist, or directly from the farmer. Click the image below to purchase the Ginseng tincture.
It is important that the Ginseng is organic, non-gmo and non-irradiated. (as the chemicals, herbicides, and pesticides may be cause for allergic reactions.)
or consider growing your own Ginseng Strictly Medicinal Seeds is a reputable company to purchase from.
None of these statements are meant to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat. They are for informational purposes only.
Principals and Practice of Phytotherapy – Mills and Bone
The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety – Mills and Bone
The Encyclopedia Of Herbal Medicine – Andrew Chevaillier
Clinical Trials from the NIH website.