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This is not a medical site. Information on this page is provided on a "best efforts" basis for interest only and does not constitute personal advice.
It is essential that you discuss medical matters with your doctor.

Korean Ginseng

Ginseng is a medicinal plant with wondrous powers. Although it grows in other countries as well, it is widely cultivated in Korea where the climate and soil produce the world's finest. It is a perennial herb that belongs to the Araliaceae family. Scientifically it is known as Panax schinseng Nees.

Ginseng is used as a restorative or tonic, rather than as a cure for a particular illness. Traditional East Asian medicine officially lists the following effects of ginseng: strengthening of organs; stimulation of the heart; protection of the stomach and enhancement of stamina; and calming of nerves. As such, it is routinely prescribed to people with weak digestive systems and poorly functioning metabolisms. People with stomach discomfort, chronic indigestion, heartburn, emesis, and poor appetite can greatly benefit from ginseng.

Scientific research on the effects of ginseng took off in the 1950s in both pharmaceutical and clinical studies, unveiling the mystery that had surrounded the plant for thousands of years. Korean scholars have made great contributions to the scientific inquiry into the ginseng. They have consolidated the nation's reputation as the home of ginseng in every aspect cultivation, treatment and merchandising, and even research.

Acccording to existing studies, the primary ingredient that gives ginseng its medicinal quality is saponin, which reduces fatigue, enhances the body's productivity and brings down the blood sugar level. In recent theoretical analyses, ginseng's basic medical action is presumed to be that of an adaptogen, enhancing the overall resistance of the body and facilitating its normalization and recovery from a state of illness. More specifically, ginseng facilitates the production of glucocorticoid, an adrenocortical hormone, strengthening the ability of the adrenal cortex to deal with various kinds of stress to the body.

By stimulating the cerebral cortex and the choline, ginseng also brings down blood pressure, facilitates breathing, reduces excess sugar in the blood, assists the actions of insulin, increases red blood cells and haemoglobin, and strengthens the digestive tract. Active research is underway to prove that ginseng also facilitates the formation, of protein and DNA, and suppresses cancer.

Indeed, science is confirming the age-old belief that ginseng is the elixir of life. Thus, ginseng is a central ingredient in numerous prescriptions in traditional East Asian medicine. In Korea, where its wondrous powers were accepted long before modern science came into existence, it is also drunk as a tea or a liquor.

Dose: This depends largely on the grade of root. Choose a standardized product, with a content of at least 5% ginesenosides. This will generally be more expensive but cheap versions may contain very little active ingredient. An optimum dose of 600 - 1200mg daily is suggested. Ginseng should not be taken for more than six weeks without a break. In the East, ginseng is taken in a two weeks on, two weeks off cycle.

Contra-indications/Precautions

Ginseng is not recommended for people with:

high blood pressure (may make hypertension worse),
a heart rhythm abnormality,
an oestrogen-dependent condition, such as pregnancy, cancer of the breast, ovaries or uterus (as it contains oestrogenic compounds) [top]

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