logo
 

There are three different herbs commonly called ginseng: Asian or Korean ginseng(Panax ginseng) , American ginseng(Panax quinquefolius) , and Siberian “ginseng” Eleutherococcus senticosus ) . The latter herb is actually not ginseng at all and is discussed in a separate article .

Asian ginseng is a perennial herb with a taproot resembling the shape of the human body. It grows in northern China, Korea, and Russia; its close relative, Panax quinquefolius , is cultivated in the United States. Because ginseng must be grown for 5 years before it is harvested, it commands a high price, with top-quality roots easily selling for more than $10,000. Dried, unprocessed ginseng root is called white ginseng, and steamed, heat-dried root is red ginseng. Chinese herbalists believe that each form has its own particular benefits.

Ginseng is widely regarded by the public as a stimulant. According to everyone who uses it seriously, though, that isn’t the right description. In traditional Chinese herbology, Panax ginseng was used to strengthen the digestion and the lungs, calm the spirit, and increase overall energy. When the Russian scientist Israel I. Brekhman became interested in the herb prior to World War II, he came up with a new idea about ginseng: He decided that it was an adaptogen.

The term adaptogen refers to a hypothetical treatment described as follows: An adaptogen should help the body adapt to stresses of various kinds, whether heat, cold, exertion, trauma, sleep deprivation, toxic exposure, radiation, infection, or psychological stress. Furthermore, an adaptogen should cause no side effects, be effective in treating a wide variety of illnesses, and help return an organism toward balance no matter what may have gone wrong.

Perhaps the only indisputable example of an adaptogen is a healthful lifestyle. By eating right, exercising regularly, and generally living a life of balance and moderation, you will increase your physical fitness and ability to resist illnesses of all types. Whether there are any substances that can do as much remains unclear. However, Brekhman felt certain that ginseng produced similarly universal benefits.

Interestingly, traditional Chinese medicine (where ginseng comes from) does not entirely agree. There is no one-size-fits-all in Chinese medical theory. Like any other herb, ginseng is said to be helpful for those people who need its particular effects, and neutral or harmful for others. But in Europe, Brekhman’s concept has taken hold, and ginseng is widely believed to be a universal adaptogen.

What Is Ginseng Used for Today?

If Brekhman is right, ginseng should be the right treatment for most of us. Modern life is tremendously stressful, and if an herb could help us withstand it, it would be a useful herb indeed. Ginseng is widely used for this purpose in Russia and Eastern Europe. However, the scientific basis for this use is largely limited to animal studies and human trials of unacceptably low quality.

 
 

Information and statements presented on this site have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Always consult a physician or health care provider before taking any nutritional, herbal, dietary or homeopathic supplement. Please read all product packaging before using. Prices subject to change without notice.

All online offers and prices are valid for online purchases only, and may be different from those in our retail stores. We are not responsible for pricing or typographical errors.

To Your Health Copyright © 2015