Thursday, June 12, 2008


Ginseng and the Chinese go a long way back - over 5,000 years, in fact. The name ginseng is derived from two Chinese words meaning 'man plant' because of its likeness to the human form. Ancient healers believed the herb could help the mind and body achieve a healthy balance.

Medicinal uses and health benefits
Ginseng has been claimed to have many health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, protecting against stress and enhancing strength.
Ginseng is also said to increase resistance to diabetes, cancer, heart disease and various infections by improving the body's immune system.

The more popular types of ginseng used today are Panax ginseng and Siberian ginseng.

Panax ginseng is used primarily to improve psychological function, physical performance, immune function and conditions associated with diabetes. It is said to promote Yang energy by improving blood circulation, revitalising energy and aids recovery from illness.

Panax ginseng is recommended by traditional herbalists to protect against heart and other cardiovascular diseases. Traditional Chinese medicine also prescribes Panax ginseng to treat diabetes.

Research has shown that Panax ginseng improves the release of insulin from the pancreas and lowers blood sugar levels. It also has antioxidant properties and increases immune system activity, which makes it a good herbal support for those suffering from cancer, AIDS and other chronic conditions that impair the immune system.

American and Asian ginseng are also said to slow the progression of Alzheimer's, and improve memory and behaviour.

Siberian ginseng is usually given to maintain good health rather than treating ailments.
Siberian Ginseng is reputed to have a normalising effect and bringing the body back into balance. It may help protect the body from the debilitating effects of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.

It also contains remarkable compounds that favourably affect the adrenal glands, the small glands that rest above the kidneys and secrete stress-fighting hormones.

Siberian ginseng is popular for invigorating and fortifying the body. By supporting healthy uterine function, it is said to be useful in preventing female infertility. Siberian ginseng may also increase mental alertness, particularly in the early stages of mental deterioration.

No known medical conditions preclude the use of ginseng, but people with heart and circulation problems should use it with care. Caution is also advised if you have hypertension, since overuse of the herb can cause an increase in blood pressure. Because of its effects on blood sugar, people with diabetes should be cautious as well.
When considering the use of ginseng, consultation with a health care professional is advised.