Ginseng:  The Renowned Rejuvenator

                 The Chinese have been using it for nearly five thousand years, and here in the States it’s reputed to be a curative for impotency, low energy, failing eyesight, and just about every other problem you might have. But is it true? Is ginseng really the elixir it’s cracked up to be?To begin, ginseng is a root, and an extremely YANG root, according to Chinese Medicine. YANG means MALE energy, as compared to YIN, or female energy.It grows all over the world, but the best for your money is said to be Korean white ginseng. 

Americans also grow ginseng, and the wild version is said to be more potent than the cultivated.The ginseng root can be chewed, or you can buy an extract and add it to a tea.  It also comes in a granulated tea form and in capsules. It is a great pick-me-up for anyone with low energy; and it also works well to strengthen weak digestion, weak adrenal glands and the spleen.  It’s also used for anemia and cold hands and feet, hypoglycemia, insomnia, low blood pressure and impotence.

As a general rule, since it is a very yang herb, it is good for people who are very yin.  It isn’t a good herb for people who have high blood pressure, high energy and are built very strong, people with a good sexual appetite, and built like Mary Lou Retten, Ed Asner, or a football player.  Because these are all indications of yang.  I also rarely use it for women, since their constitution is more yin than men. 

I once had a female patient who began to grow hair on her face after taking ginseng regularly! It is important not to take too much ginseng, even for short periods of time, since it can over stimulate the central nervous system.  It could give you headaches or make you feel jittery or anxious.If you begin to use it too frequently, it will begin to actually weaken the body and create a dependency and long-term imbalance.  In some ways, it’s similar to coffee and caffeine.  But, in moderation, it can cure a cough, a cold, asthma, a fever, and lessen the effects of menopause, hay fever, sinus attacks, or glandular swelling.  But again, this only applies in people who are more yin, and weak.   And if you have high blood pressure you should NEVER take ginseng — never/ever! A good tea can be made by taking three cups of water and one shredded teaspoon each of ginseng, licorice root, and ginger; boil for fifteen minutes, steep until cool, strain, and drink.The most innovative idea I have heard is to use it as the Chinese do–add the root to chicken soup!   Kind of Jewish Chinese soup.  🙂

Ginseng Types and Uses:

American Ginseng is a yin tonic; calm the spirit; nourishing, memory and brain, normalize blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, resist fatigue, increase oxygen utilization, immunity; adaptogenic, cooling, yet energizing; eliminates fever; all the benefits without the heat (Panax Quinquefolii Radix)Oriental Ginseng is more of a chi tonic…… including Siberian (Eleuthercoccus senticosus) – Siberian or Russian is more stimulant and tonic; it rarely produces excitation like Panax ginseng Tienchi (Panax notoginseng). Tienchi also activates blood circulation and is a chi tonic; this is one of the first herbs used for high cholesterol.  Works well.

Chinese and Korean ginseng are both Oriental and are more Yang. The Chinese and Korean types are more yang tonics than the Siberian and Tienchi which are more of Chi Tonics. Korean Red is the most Yang and Korean White is the next most yang behind Chinese.Women need blood tonics more often than chi tonics. For women who need a tonic, I will use an herbal formula called Women’s Precious Formula.  This is especially needed immediately after pregnancy, and while nursing to re-build the blood and chi. Works much better than Ginseng for women.  Red Ginseng is more Yang and should only be used infrequently, for performance, test taking, studying, or if you didn’t sleep and need to perform the next day. Never use Ginseng for more than a few days at a time, with the exception of Tienchi, which is no “real” ginseng anyhow.  Your body will grow addicted to it, just like it would nicotine, caffeine or any other stimulant or drug.

Ginseng – Uses, Effects and Side Effects