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Ginseng - The Root of Life

Written: 11/04/2007

The article on Ways to minimise the effects of a hangover was featured on Lifehacker. I mentioned about drinking ginseng as a quick-fix against hangover and many people wanted to know about this "magical plant" and its effects on health.

Termed as the "root of life" by the chinese, this plant is glorified by almost one-quarter of the world's population. It is from the plant family Panax, pan "all" and akos "heal", which literally means panacea, a remedy for all ills or difficulties. Ginseng comes from the chinese word "jen-shen" which means "man root" (referring to the root's characteristic forked shape, resembling the legs of a man). Abundant in ancient times, now you will rarely come across a cultivation of ginseng. It survives nowadays in extreme locations in the USA where it is very difficult to harvest it. Only specially trained men can go to these locations to collect the ginseng roots. In Asia, its culture is solidly garded by trained soldiers in confined territories. In Korea, the plantation of Ginseng is limited to an ancient city about 40 kilometers in diametre, entirely surrounded by walls. In China, where it used to grow in the wilderness, Ginseng plants have practically disappeared due to massive deforestation.

Types of ginseng

  • Wild Ginseng

    Wild ginseng is ginseng that is not cultivated. It is harvested from nature. Wild ginseng is relatively rare, and in many cases threatened or endangered.

  • Red Ginseng

    Red ginseng is Panax ginseng that has been heated, either through steaming or sun-drying.

  • White Ginseng

    Regular, non-heated ginseng is referred to as White ginseng.

Is it edible?

I really don't think there is any recipe for a ginseng dish. The most common use of ginseng I know is in soup and tea. Asians consider it as a medication and not as an ingredient for cooking and consume it as such. I know of some people though, who chew raw ginseng, particularly when it has been freshly uprooted because the roots still have a sweet taste.

To prepare a ginseng tea, you can just cut the ginseng into two thin slices, place it in a tea cup and then pour hot water on it. At first, drink the tea and then chew the ginseng slices (while you’ll drink your tea, these slices will soften in the hot water). Another revitalizing and strong ginseng tea can be prepared as follows: boil two tea ginseng bags in water (one cup) for about ten minutes. After that, squeeze the tea bags, add honey and some lemon juice into the tea.

And what does it heal?

  • Libido booster: Asians consider it as an excellent aphrodisiac, especially for men whose virility decreases with age.

  • Cardiac System Tonic: Chinese people claim that ginseng can stimulate your cardiovascular system, stomach and mental activity. They boast of gaining about a decade solely due to the consumption of ginseng.

  • Stimulates digestion: Ginseng has also been claimed to helps in the digestion process and elimination of excess gastric acid.

  • Cure hangover faster: Ginseng helps to speed up the process of decomposition of alcohol by the liver.

  • Diabetes treatment: Ginseng are used by diabetes for the treatment of Type II diabetes.

  • Increase brain power: Many students drink ginseng infusions to improve their capacity to think, study, concentrate, focus and memorize.

  • Slows the aging process: Ginseng can promote synthesis of protein, RNA, and DNA in tissues and organs such as the kidney, liver, bone marrow , and plasma.

  • Eliminate stress: Electric shock and other physical stress manipulations are known to cause antinociception, or an increase in the threshold of pain. The mechanisms of stress-induced antinociception are controlled by emotional factors such as anxiety and fear. Ginseng has been demonstrated to suppress the development of adaptation to psychological stress.

  • Improved physical stamina: Among the varied promises of Ginseng are those of an increased physical stamina and a higher quality of life.

  • Note of Caution: Although various studies have been conducted, there are no definite claims about the therapeutic effects of ginseng unless you take into accounts the claims of most asians people. As the asians are considered to have the longest life span on earth, then it is a safe claim to say that ginseng sure does your body good. But to stay on the safe side, only consume about 1000 mg to 3000 mg during a day.


    Asian Ginseng

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