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Panax ginseng

The Chinese have cherished this plant, which they believe holds the keys to the secret of life, for thousands of years. The root, which resembles the shape of a spindly human being, is considered a panacea, a tonic for the whole system that ensures vitality, longevity and increased sexual vigour. Modern science, although begrudgingly acknowledging the beneficial effects of Ginseng, cannot actually find the 'active compound' that is supposed to be responsible for these life enhancing qualities. Instead, it has found a great number of apparently contradictory saponin triterpenoid glycosides called 'ginsenosides', which seem to cancel out each others actions. Western researchers thus conclude that Ginseng 'can't possibly have any beneficial effects'. The Chinese doctor on the other hand, concludes that this represents prove of Ginseng's balanced yin and yang forces, which are able to restore equilibrium by balancing any deficiency in either yin or yang within the body, as needed. In other words, they consider it an adaptogen. Almost all Chinese herbal compounds contain Ginseng. Experts indulge in a veritable 'science of ginsengology' claiming different uses and actions for each part of the root and method of preparation, of which there are many: dried, sugared, boiled, steamed, extracted with alcohol or even added to soups, to name but a few. Ginseng - the 'man root' is a true elixir of life.

Ginseng is a tonic that not only improves a wide variety of ailments, but also acts as a preventative. Chinese medicine includes Ginseng in numerous formulas for its overall balancing effects. Ginseng is used whenever the body is exposed to environmental, emotional or mental stress. Stress has many negative effects on the body, but one of the worst and most insidious ones is the over-stimulation and subsequent exhaustion of the adrenal glands. When stress exerts its negative effects for too long the adrenaline levels become depleted and the gland's ability to produce it is also diminished. As a result the body lacks the energy it needs to face even ordinary stress situations, becomes fatigued, unable to concentrate, emotionally unstable and easily depressed while simultaneously the immune system is also weakened. The normal sex drive is reduced and the individual shows neither lust nor lustre. Ginseng improves the function of the adrenal gland and thus helps the body to cope with these manifold symptoms of stress. Ginseng also improves the circulation and strengthens the heart. Improved circulation means improved blood supply and better functioning of the organs. All of these properties show that Ginseng's reputation as an overall tonic is more than justified. In Chinese medicine it is often given in compound mixtures that address a particular part or function of the body, e.g. Ginseng and Ginkgo are said to be an ideal combination for mental stress, and to improve memory and the ability to concentrate. Ginseng is especially recommended for ailments associated with old age, but in this day and age where stress has become a way of life, it would be a good choice for anybody that wants to offset the negative effects of the rat-race before serious long-term consequences have actually started to manifest as chronic conditions. It can be taken on a daily basis as tolerance is generally considered very good.

Ginseng is used in healing rituals and as an amulet for good health, vitality, stamina, endurance and longevity. It is also said to bring good luck, fertility and abundance.

Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children, or if you are unwell, or taking any medication. If in doubt, please ask a medical herbalist or healthcare practitioner.