Ginseng is the name of an herb that is traditionally grown in China and Korea. Ginseng has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. It is said to have many health benefits such as healing and energy-giving properties. That is why they considered it a “cure all.”
The name ginseng derived from the Chinese name for it: Ren Shen. It literally means “Man’s Root” because the shape of a ginseng resembles the shape of a human with the shoots that stem off from the root looking like arms and legs. In Ancient China, ginseng was considered very valuable. The Chinese even placed it above gold because they believed it would be able to grant them long lives and cure all sickness and disease. The demand for ginseng in China was so great, they even had to import it from Korea. Ginseng is still valuable today. Studies have shown that it fights fatigue and relieves stress. If paired with Ginkgo biloba, ginseng may improve memory capacity and in children, it improves symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Ginseng may be sold in different forms such as in whole, sliced, in powder form, in tea bags, capsules, etc. The leaves of the ginseng are sometimes used but they are not as important as the root. Nowadays, ginseng tea is so popular, it is grown in many parts of the world. There are different types of ginseng. Here are some of them:
Indian Ginseng: found on the Indian sub-continent.
Asian Ginseng: found in China, Japan and Korea.
Asian ginseng comes in two forms: white ginseng and red ginseng. White ginseng is grown for four to six years while red ginseng is harvested after six years. White ginseng is peeled, then dried to reduce water level to 12% or less. Red ginseng is not peeled but is steamed and that is how it gets its reddish brown color. White ginseng is dried in the sun which gives it the yellowish-white color. For the red ginseng, after steaming it, the roots are then dried.
Japanese Ginseng: found in Japan.
Siberian Ginseng: it is not really a ginseng because it has a wood-like root rather than a fleshy root. Also it contains chemicals called Eleutherosides, while ginseng contains Ginsenosides. It can be found in China, Japan, Korea and Russia.
Southern Ginseng, or Jiaogulan: found in Southern China, Southern Japan and Southern Korea.
Prince Ginseng: mainly found in the Southern Chinese provinces of Shaanxi, Shandong, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Henan, and Zhejiang.
Brazilian Ginseng: found in Brazil.
Peruvian Ginseng, or Maca: found in the Ande Mountains of Peru and Bolivia. It is used for medicinal purposes and is eaten as a root vegetable.
American Ginseng: found in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, Oklahoma, British Columbia, and Ontario.
Although ginseng is healthy, one should take ginseng at the recommended dosage in cycles. Meaning, there should be a time of regular consumption, followed by a break, then resume the cycle again. For optimum health, one should drink ginseng regularly for a course of at least one to three months within a year. When preparing ginseng tea, do not use boiling water because it may reduce the effectiveness of ginseng. Since ginseng does not need any drawing like regular tea leaves, water that is hot enough to drink is sufficient.
Ginseng also has some side effects. The most common side-effects is the inability to sleep. Other side-effects include nausea, diarrhea, euphoria, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, headaches and mastalgia. Ginseng may be good for you but just make sure that you take the recommended dosage.