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What Is Ginseng? Ginseng Benefits For Health Explained

Ginseng bunch.

Ginseng has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular teas and remedies around. Ginseng is like a fine wine, the older it is, the better and more expensive. But it has to stay in the ground for a long time to be more beneficial and expensive. Unlike wine which doesn’t taste better when made from very old grapes. If you haven’t tried ginseng, you’re going to want to after you discover its wondrous health benefits.

What Is The Ginseng Plant?

Wild ginseng growing.

American Ginseng Plant.

The term ginseng is quite broad because it includes over twelve different species of plants that belong to the Panax genus. Ginseng is known for its use for medical conditions. It’s considered an herbal medicine. There are different types of ginseng, but only three common ones. Those are Asian, Korean, and American ginseng. According to Chinese medicine, American ginseng is less stimulating than the Asian variety. But American ginseng still has its place in the market. The harvest of ginseng has become very economically and culturally important to American Indian tribes and a lot of communities in the United States. 

Herbal extracts of the plant are made by drying its root and roots hairs. There are many plants that are referred to as ginseng, like Siberian ginseng and Brazilian ginseng, but they don’t actually contain the key necessary component, ginsenosides. Ginsenosides are presumed to be the active component of ginseng. The ginseng plant is full of benefits for the entire body, including the brain. Many people combine ginseng and gingko to enhance its ability to improve concentration and learning. It has even been used to improve athletic performance. However, there is no scientific evidence that ginseng is what it claims to be. 

Where Does Ginseng Grow?

The plant is typically grown in North America, but it can also be found in certain cool areas of Asia. The American Ginseng is most commonly found in deciduous forests, which are forests that lose their leaves every year. They’re found in locations from the Midwest to Maine. It’s also grown in eastern Canada. It is a highly valued plant with large fleshy roots. The root is the most valuable in terms of medicinal needs. It can be purchased whole, dried, or sliced. The root of ginseng is exported in large volumes. The majority is exported to China. The trade of ginseng began in the mid-1700’s. The leaves aren’t used as much but they do have some value. 

Ginseng is so special because of its many health benefits. Along with what it can do for the body, it can also do good for your brain. It helps stimulate neural activity and cognitive abilities that start slacking as you get older. Its antioxidants also prevent the build-up of plaque and free radicals that end up in your brain. This prevents Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and other cognitive disorders. While we’re on the topic of brains, it can also help treat ADHD and other general learning ability in children. 

Ginseng Tea Explained

Tea being poured into a mug.

Ginseng tea.

Before you decide to how to use ginseng in your diet, you should speak with your doctor. They’ll want a list of all the other medications your taking. Even though ginseng is completely natural, it’s very powerful, which means it has the ability to harm you in addition to helping you. It can interfere with Prozac, Cialis, Adderall, Caffeine, and warfarin. You can find a more comprehensive list with a quick Google search. You also need to make sure that you’re ginseng was bought from a trustworthy source and not some sketchy website. 

Using this plant can be quite simple. It can be consumed orally or it can be added to energy drinks, teas, beverages, and supplements. Ginseng is also a very common tea. The daily recommended dose of ginseng is the equivalent of 1-2 grams of dried root. It’s about 400-1000 mg a day. It can be used up to 3 months at a time. Never take more than the recommended dosage on the bottle. If you’re buying it in powder form, you’re going to need a milligram scale. You can also buy a capsule making kit which is very affordable. 

Ginseng Health Benefits Explained

laughing

Ginseng for energy levels.

Different types of ginseng provide different benefits. Even though these benefits haven’t been seriously researched yet, this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Ginseng has the ability to increase energy. In the American variety of ginseng, there are polysaccharides and oligopeptides. These are known to lower oxidative stress, enhance physical activity, fight fatigue, and generally boost your energy. It’s for these reasons that you commonly find ginseng in energy drinks. In addition to that, Asian ginseng helps relieve stress by affecting the body’s nervous system. It also helps to boost mood and energy levels, just like its American counterpart. The hormonal levels in the body are able to be altered by the adaptogens in the ginseng. Hormone levels are a key factor in causing stress levels to skyrocket. 

The Korean red ginseng has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress. It can also reduce nerve inflammation and help with the recovery after a spinal cord injury. Since it works as an anti-inflammatory, it can help treat menstrual discomfort as well. Ginseng is commonly prescribed to women who suffer from extreme cramps and discomfort. It can also help manage the symptoms of menopause, like reducing hot flashes and mood swings. Whichever way you spin it, ginseng has plenty of health benefits. 

Ginseng Side Effects Explained

Generally, ginseng side effects are mild because it’s natural. Even natural ingredients can cause complications when overdone or taken in combination with something else. Some people have reported that it caused them nervousness and insomnia. With both of those symptoms it can be are hard to truly identify the source. You can be nervous about a lot of things in your life and your insomnia can be caused by this nervousness.

I’m not trying to diminish these people’s feelings, but rather make a point that the side effects aren’t so set in stone. Ginseng isn’t one of these things that you can take every day for forever. It’s advised to take it for at most 3 months and then take a little break from it. It’s not recommended for children or women who are breastfeeding or pregnant because there’s a lack of evidence in its safety. 

The most common side effects are a headache, rapid heartbeat, a change in blood pressure, insomnia, breast tenderness, and vaginal bleeding. You should stop consuming ginseng if you have burning in your eyes, sore throat, fever, swelling in your tongue or face, or a skin pain that’s followed by a purple or red rash that spreads quickly. You may even notice blistering and peeling. If any of this happens, call your doctor immediately or head to the emergency room. 

How To Find Ginseng?

Hands holding ginseng.

Ginseng can be difficult to find.

Ginseng isn’t found naturally in many foods and therefore has to be added to energy drinks and foods. It’s important for you to buy ginseng from a reputable source. Around 50% of commercially sold ginseng contain less than the effective dose. You can also go look for ginseng in the wild for yourself, just make sure you aren’t trespassing. Wild ginseng is regulated in only 19 states. Those are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. It’s prohibited in all the other states. These 19 states all have a harvesting season from September 1st to November 30th.

If you want to find some for yourself, you’ll need to do research of the location where you want to go to. Check to see if ginseng has ever grown there before. If you want to harvest and sell ginseng, make sure you do it legally and get a permit or license. If you don’t want to deal with all that work or commitment, you can easily find it in a health food store, you just need to decide which species you want. They all provide different benefits. Korean ginseng is best for immune and psychological function, American ginseng is great for fighting fatigue, Siberian ginseng is for boosting energy and physical performance, and Indian ginseng can enhance cognitive abilities. Whichever you choose will surely be able to provide you with many benefits. 

Why Is Ginseng So Expensive?

There are two main reasons why ginseng is so expensive and those are it’s medicinal uses and it’s scarcity. Ginseng goes above and beyond all of the other herbs in all that it can do. It can prevent cancer and help in treating its growth. That’s just two of it’s multiple of benefits. It also takes a long time to make. This alone would spike up the price. When something takes a long time to make it means that there are more people working on it. Every person that is involved in the production of something has to be paid which raises the price. 

The ginseng plant takes a lot of time to grow. By a lot of time, I mean anywhere from 5 to 10 years. It only grows in very specific weather conditions. The older the ginseng root is, the more expensive it is. The mature roots are the ones with the maximum benefits. You can even find ginseng root that’s over 20-years-old. These are obviously sold at exorbitant prices. Ginseng has been declared endangered in many parts of the United States. Which is why it’s not legal to harvest and sell it in most places. Something that’s been declared endangered is going to be expensive. 

Conclusion

Ginseng is most impressive because of its ability to prevent aging, reduce stress, soothe inflammation, increase energy, and stimulate the mind. In truth, it can do so much more! As I mentioned earlier, there is no scientific evidence to back the information on ginseng, but even doctors agree that it can do wonders. It’s expensive because it’s worth it. The prices for this gem of nature is only going to increase as time goes on. 

Ginseng harvesters have to be careful with this plant because poachers may come looking for it. If you own a ginseng plantation, you don’t tell anyone. It’s one of those things that have to be kept hush-hush. Most plantations have 24/7 surveillance for this very reason. Some even guard the plant with dogs or automatic weapons. As a consumer, you need to be careful not to buy fake ginseng. Yes, such a thing exists, just like fake diamonds exist. We know that there are seven wonders of the world, but apparently, there’s an eighth, and it’s ginseng. 

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