WELL BEING: Ginseng

13 Apr

When I first became an herbalist, I mainly studied plants indigenous to North America.  It was not long before I was introduced to Chinese herbs then South American and so on.  I could find many uses for the herbs I was accustomed to using on a daily basis but one herb greatly transcended geography and ability as a natural healing food.

The whole world has discovered that Ginseng is a very special plant.  But before I can tell you what makes Ginseng exceptional, I have to explain a little about how herbs work.

Think of it like this, some herbs have a cellular make-up similar to our kidney, heart or part of our endocrine system.  For example, the herb I most relate to healing heart tissue is Hawthorn Berries.  The signature cell identity of these berries closely resembles that of heart tissue.  So you take the herb and it plays match-game with your heart tissue to repair it.  Pretty miraculous, huh?!

Ginseng is what we call an adaptogenic herb.  Adoptogens can ‘adapt’ to any situation and respond by healing imbalance in the body.  A few other potent adoptogenic herbs you may have heard of include licorice, reishi mushrooms and garlic.

“There was a study done in East Germany and Russia in the 50’s.  Eleven thousand people were in the study, with 14 PhD.’s writing their papers on the subject.  Their conclusions by consensus showed that when 500 mg. of Siberian Ginseng was consumed every day without let up, those studied had 100% protection from every viral infection known to man.” The Little Herb Encyclopedia, Jack Ritchason

Panax Ginseng, from Korea and China, stimulates the central nervous system, repairs adrenal exhaustion, restores the immune system, increases endurance and balances hormones.

Suma,  Brazilian Ginseng, is my absolute favorite adaptogenic herb.  Indian tribes of South America have used it for centuries to balance blood sugar levels, enhance the immune system, strengthen the muscular system and as a general restorative tonic for use during and after illness.

Maca, Peruvian Ginseng, is a nutritive food, increasing over-all energy levels and stamina, as well as balancing all body systems.

American Ginseng helps correct HPA axis imbalances, gently energizes the central nervous system, relieves fatigue, boosts the immune system and enhances stamina.  According to Timothy Moynihan, M.D., a 2007 study at the Mayo clinic found that cancer fatigue could be lessened by the use of American Ginseng.

Siberian Ginseng is the crown jewel of adaptogenic herbs, shown to help address adrenal exhaustion and normalize cortisol production.  Siberian Ginseng was the first adaptogen to be scientifically studied and it is still used by athletes to combat the physical and mental exhaustion of extreme activity.  This phenomenal herb increases physical and mental performance and is known for its beneficial effect on memory, the immune system and in particular, the endocrine system.  Siberian Ginseng is also one of the most used adaptogens to help people prevent radiation sickness during cancer treatment.

Always consult with your physician before starting any new herbal treatment.

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