Learn the Herbs: Ginseng
What is Ginseng?
Ginseng, you might recognize the word from energy drink cans or those special pills in the two by two packaging by the cash register at the gas station. But what is it exactly? Well in this article let’s clear the bad reputation Ginseng has earned from those sugary energy drinks we love so much. Categorized into four different types, mainly the ginseng that we are used to is the Chinese species or Ginseng, Panax. The Chinese species is a little less expensive (exactly why so many different brands use it) and has a more jittery buzz that's similar to caffeine. Chinese medicine considers Panax a hot herb. Which by the way, what's up with the hot and cold herbs anyway? If you've ever researched ginseng in depth you've probably come across this more than once. Hot and cooling; These types of herbs denote different qualities and effects within the body as described by ancient Chinese Medicine. We should take such wisdom seriously, as Chinese Medicine has laid the groundwork for hundreds of proven remedies we use today.
Hot herbs (A quick description)
No, not hot like a hot tea or anything like that. Hot as in the effects on the body are uplifting and energetic. Though it might seem like an obvious symptom, raising the body temperature isn't required to be a hot herb, but it is a common effect. Hot can also denote that the herb has diuretic effects and can get the bodies fluids moving more quickly.
If you are starting to catch on you'll probably guess that the cooling herbs are more relaxing and sedative in nature. As opposed to getting your body up and moving, it promotes a peace and tranquility within the body. Hundreds of herbs (Including American Ginseng) have unique cooling effects on the body that are beneficial to stress reduction and healing from wounds. So Hot herbs move, Cold herbs heal. Sort of, at least that's the quickest way to explain it from the perspective of a western herbal enthusiast.
Main Types of Ginseng
Ginseng has four main species that are native to Siberia, Canada, China and the Korean Peninsula. While there are actually 11 official species, these 5 will be our focus because of their widespread popularity!
Generally considered a hot herb (as discussed earlier) Ginseng Panax is one of the most commonly found forms of ginseng in the world. It has man benefits but not as many active components as American or Siberian Ginseng. Though, the buzz you gain from Ginseng Panax is both popular and familiar to most American Consumers.
Korean Red Ginseng
Korean Ginseng is very similar in its effects on the body as Chinese Ginseng, though with far more benefits. Though it is still considered a hot herb, the Korean variety is noted to have more of a calming effect when compared to Chinese Ginseng. Though, it still has caffeine-like quality that adds energy and focus to your day. It takes almost 6 years for the Korean Red Ginseng to fully develop. Because of this it is considered a "super-food" and is called "the secret of life" in many cultures throughout Asia.
Eleuthero, or "Siberian Ginseng"
Another very common supplement ingredient found all over the world is Siberian Ginseng. While it is an energetic herb that can be described as hot, the roots of the Eleuthero plant are very powerful. Siberian Ginseng is said to increase the body's resistance to fatigue through a number of factors. It's also said to contribute to anti-ageing, and contains a wide variety of antioxidants not present in other Ginseng varieties.
American Ginseng is grown in Canada and has become the most sought after form ofВ Ginseng in the world. China and Korea in particular have developed quite the taste for this special root and for good reason. The root is considered to have cooling qualities but it also contains the same active compounds as Chinese and Siberian Ginseng. It can help improve mood, balance energy and relaxation and generally promote a focused and powerful sense of well-being.
Technically a species of Ginseng, Maca Root is very popular in South America and particularly in its native country of Peru. Typically mixed into a drink, the benefits of Maca are as miraculous as Korean Red Ginseng but with a few qualities that separate it from other the other species of Ginseng. Also considered a "super-food," the roots of the Maca plant have been utilized for thousands of years and are known to boost sexual potency and health in both men and women.
Get this, it also has all of the focus and clarity effects of the other Ginseng species. The way it's drank is fairly unique as well. As it's usually put in a gourd and drank with a metal straw, the beverage is said to have an espresso buzz that hits the body almost instantly. Now that you know the score about Ginseng it's time to utilize it for your health! Some of the other universal health benefits of ginseng are:
• Libido enhancement
• Hormonal balance
• Elimination of lethargy
• More daily focus
• Increased longevity during physical exercise
• Better mood and sense of well being
• Increased fertility in women
• Adaptogen properties that reduce stress
Ginseng is a powerful gift from nature and has the ability to relieve stress, balance hormones, promote healthy energetic activities and give you the focus you need to be the best you can be each day.
For your safety
While there are few side effects at low doses, too much should never be consumed. How much exactly is too much? Well that all depends on your body, what medications you take, what health you are in and your past medical history. Always consult a physician before taking large doses of any energetic or herbs that effect hormonal health. There are many variations of each species and a physician may help you determine if another herb or root can be more helpful. If you do decide to dose regularly, please note that is recommended to research the herb in-depth before you embark on any long term treatments.