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Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
The Ginseng root, probably the most famous of the Chinese herbal remedies, has been acclaimed as a revitalizing cure-all for more than 5000 years. Recently ginseng has found an increasing number of fans in the United states because of its many natural healing applications.

Plant Facts : The ginseng plant takes at least 6 yrs to mature and can grow up to 28 inches tall. Ginseng is distinguished by its yellow taproot (resembling a carrot), its subtle, unusual odor and its slightly spicy taste.

Origin : Ginseng is native to Korea and parts of China. It is only rarely found growing in the wild, but is widely cultivated in Asia.

Parts Used : There are two main varieties of Ginseng white and red. Only the root is used for healing purposes. White ginseng is simply the peeled, dried, leached root. The more costly red ginseng is obtained by treating the freshly harvested roots with steam, then drying them slowly in the sun.

Components : Although ginseng is among the most studied of all medical herbs, exactly how it works is still unknown. Some researchers believe that ginseng's main effect stem from ginsenosides, constituents thought to promote protein synthesis by the liver and to break down stress inducing chemicals in the bosy. Other active ingredients include essential oils as well as thiamin and riboflavin. Ginseng also contains substances called saponosides (which help the body metabolize sugar), as well as panacene, which strengthens the cardiovascular system.

Indications : Ginseng is particularly helpful for combating exhaustion and difficulties in concentrating. Ginseng tonic is sometimes taken preventively to boost immune function. The herb also helps speed recovery after an illness, enhance mood and lift mild depression.

Take care : Don't take ginseng for longer than 3 months or at higher than recommended dosages, because doing so can cause sleep disturbances, restlessness or anxiety.

Methods of Administration:

Tea : Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tsp. of grated ginseng. Steep for 10 min, then strain./ This tea helps to sharpen concentration, even in very elderly people.

Tonic : Take 20-30 drops of Ginseng tonic(sold in health food stores) daily. It may prevent heart disease and can also raise low blood pressure.

Bath : Add grated ginseng root to your evening bath. Immersing yourself in the water will help you relax and ensure a restful sleep.

Nutritional Supplement : Ginseng can be found in many health food products. Save money by adding fresh ginseng to your favorite foods. For example, sprinkling a pinch of grated ginseng root on a bowl of soup is just as effective as buying a commercial ginseng soup.