February 13, 2009


Ginseng (panax) is a legendary herb to help maintaining overall body health, and especially sexual heath. Korean and Chinese are said to be the first to find out and use them in their medication process. However, Ginseng doesn’t grow only in these two countries. Ginseng grows in the Northern Hemisphere in eastern Asia (mostly northern China, Korea, and eastern Siberia), typically in cooler climates, and also in America and Canada. Panax vietnamensis, discovered in Vietnam, is the southernmost ginseng found.

However, only Chinese and Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) are considered to have beneficial medical effect since they contain ginsenosides, a class of chemical compounds responsible for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cancer preventing properties. Siberian ginseng, or Eleutherococcus senticosus, is not a real ginseng but a whole different plant named ginseng as a marketing effort to try to confuse the public with a cheaper but unbeneficial product. Instead of containing ginsenosides and has a fleshy roots, Siberian ginsengs contain eleutherosides and has a woody roots. Please make sure that you get only Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius and not the other one.

As mentioned above, ginseng is normally used to maintain overall body condition not specific organ. However, the effect may be seen on some specifics organ. Caution should be taken before consuming ginseng as there may be adverse effects such as insomnia, headaches, uterine bleeding, or diarrhea if ginseng is consumed over a period of time or with other medications. Ginseng is also considered to be a stimulant, so caffeine and other stimulants should be avoided when using ginseng. Check with your doctor for contraindications before using ginseng products.

As with any herbs or medicine, avoid excessive or prolonged use of ginseng even though it is a non-toxic herb. The recommendation is 0.5 to 2 grams of rhizome or equivalent to less than 5 thin slices of rhizome per day. Do not consume ginseng more than three consecutive months without a 2-week break.

Ginseng is normally consumes as tea or soup. To make a cup of tea, you can use rhizome which is already pre-cut or a whole rhizome which you slice by yourself. Make sure it is firm with no fungi, no soft spot and no discolorations. Pour hot water on to 3 to 5 slices of rhizomes on a ceramic or glass cup and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so. The longer you simmer, the stronger the taste. If you like, you can put sugar or honey as sweetener. This is the instant way to make the beverage.

If you want to try the Korean way, pour the honey first to the rhizome slices and let it put for 30 minutes or so. After that, pour the hot water to the mixture. I don’t know why the Korean like it this way, maybe the honey and ginseng will strengthen each other better, compare to the instant way. It is the secret of the ancient Korean empire. Anyway, just enjoy your delicious ginseng tea.

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