Ginseng is the centuries-old tonic that continues to support our modern 21st century, fast-paced lifestyle. Its beneficial properties were recorded over 2,000 years ago in the legendary Chinese Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing materia medica. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ginseng is cited as a revitalizing whole-body tonic to promote sustained stamina, and not for a caffeine-like energy jolt.
Indeed, current herbal monographs list Ginseng as a “restorative agent for enhancement of mental and physical capacities, in cases of exhaustion, tiredness, and loss of concentration”. Today, Ginseng root is primarily recommended to:
- Lift energy levels
- Promote stamina & endurance
- Help the body adapt to mental and physical stress
- Promote mental performance
- Support immune function, especially during high-stress times
- Support hormone balance
But how do you traverse the bewildering array of Ginseng products? Consider a few of its applications in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
What is the difference between Red & White Ginseng?
White Ginseng is unsteamed, retaining its natural color and is the better choice for those need a gentle energy boost.
Red Ginseng is steam processed, resulting in a warmer, potent, stimulating root.
What is the difference between the most common Ginseng roots?
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)
- General energy boost
- Cooling for people who “have a tendency to feel warm”
- Best suited for the over-worked, over-stressed type
Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
- Stimulating energy boost
- Warming (for extra warming, use Red Ginseng)
- For the over-40 crowd
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticocus) Formerly known as Siberian Ginseng. While it has similar properties to the Panax varieties, researchers thought it best to correctly identify Eleuthero by its true botanical name to reduce misidentification and to better research its compounds known as eleutherosides.
- Gentle energy boost
- Neutral, non-heating
- Best for passionate, fiery types
How to Use Ginseng
Add 1/2 – 1 tablespoon to smoothies.
To make a tea: Add ¼ – ½ teaspoon in a cup of water.
Tea: Place the whole dried root in a covered container of water and simmer for 45 minutes – 60 minutes depending on the size of the root. Strain and drink. Refrigerate and re-use the leftover root for at 3-4 times within 5 days.
To Make a Liquid Extract:
Place dried roots in a glass container and pour in a pint of brandy or vodka. Close cap and allow to sit in a cool dark place for at least 6 weeks. Once it’s fully extracted, strain and use for tea or add to smoothies. For tea, add ½ teaspoon in a cup of warm water. Enjoy!
Consult a healthcare practitioner before use if pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, especially hypertension. The use of Ginseng is contraindicated along with stimulants, including excessive use of caffeine. May potentiate the effects of antidiabetic and insulin agents. May enhance the effects of anticoagulants.