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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Medicine Health >> Ginseng

Ginseng: The Mystical Healer

Ginseng is the most widely available herbal supplement today. Many people believe the ginseng plant has mystical healing powers and health benefits. Ginseng's original name was "man root" since the ginseng root resembles the shape of a human body. Ancient Chinese doctrines state that a plant that resembles a human body part will have a healing effect on that body part. Therefore it is believed ginseng is able to restore harmony to the entire body.

Ginseng is a slow growing herb, which consists of a light colored root, a single stalk and long oval green leaves. Ginseng contains complex carbohydrates called saponins or ginsengsines. It possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer elements. For years, the Chinese have used ginseng as an energy tonic. Today, the western world is exploring its benefits in treating stress and levels of mental lucidity.

Russian research has found ginseng stimulates physical and mental activity in tired and weak individuals. It was also found to help with balance. Asian research has found that ginseng helps mental improvement, eliminates anemia, and helps prevent diabetes, neurosis, coughs, tuberculosis and asthma. It was also found to strengthen the gastrointestinal system and help with liver regeneration. It is even able to reduce the effects of alcohol and decrease hangovers. People taking regular ginseng were found to be able to handle higher levels of stress on both an emotional and physical level.

It is advised to stop taking ginseng if you experience side effects such as a rash or diarrhea, or if you develop a fever. People using warfarin, a blood thinner, should consult their physician and be monitored.

If you are interested in trying ginseng, the best supplements to buy are those which have not been subjected to excessive processing, thereby rendering them ineffective. Also, make sure you purchase authentic ginseng products since wide variations in quality exist today. It was found 15% of ginseng products contained no ginseng when tested. Your best guarantee of quality would be to purchase the whole root.

There is tradition, folklore, and research which support the healing and health benefits of ginseng. It also has experienced safe use through the years. There has been more modern research done on ginseng than on any other herb. In fact, today athletic performance experts as well as the medical community are studying it. Although it is best known and successful at boosting the immune system, improving mental function, and enhancing the ability to deal with stress, there are still studies being done to determine what other areas ginseng can be beneficial.

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