According to the doctrine of traditional Chinese medicine, Ginseng has long been thought to possess powerful healing properties. Panax ginseng is taken from the root of ginseng plants in various regions of Asia in order to make traditional Chinese medicine. While ginseng has been used in Asian cultures for thousands of years, ginseng is now finding more widespread use in Western culture due to a surge of interest in alternative medicine as well as a greater care and awareness for health in general. It is estimated that approximately 6 million Americans use ginseng regularly for its healing properties and numerous health benefits.
Types Of Panax Ginseng
Panax ginseng, also known as Asian ginseng, is a member of the Araliaceae family of plants. The Araliaceae species is a slow-growing, long-living plant with fleshy roots. Panax ginseng is distinct from American ginseng and Siberian ginseng, though it shares more similarities with the former. It can be grown in mountainous regions or in the moist, clay filled soil of a cold forest. Panax ginseng can be obtained by the consumer in 4 forms:
- Fresh Ginseng: This is ginseng in its raw, unprocessed form.
- White Ginseng: White ginseng is ginseng that has been dried and peeled. It is usually air dried in the sun. The name white ginseng is not entirely accurate, as the dried root appears yellowish-white rather than white.
- Red Ginseng: This form of panax ginseng is harvested after approximately six years. Red ginseng is not peeled, and is processed in a steam curing process which heats the red ginseng to 212 degrees Farenheit, after which it is subsequently dried. This steam-cure process gives red ginseng a reddish-brown color, which is where it draws its name. Red ginseng is perhaps the most popular form of panax ginseng used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine with Korean red panax ginseng being particularly renowned for its high quality and healing properties.
- Sun Ginseng: Sun ginseng is created by steaming white ginseng at high temperatures. At 248 degrees centigrade, the white ginseng is heated at higher temperatures than red ginseng, which is thought to amplify some of panax ginsengs health benefits.
Panax Ginseng Benefits
Panax ginseng has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine for its purported healing properties. While intensive scientific research has not been performed on the vast majority of panax ginsengs purported health benefits, various double blind studies have confirmed or provided evidence for at least some of the panax ginseng benefits claimed by traditional Chinese medicine.
However, it should be noted that not all of the claims regarding panax ginseng made by practitioners of traditional or alternative medicine hold scientific credence. Claims have been made over the years that include the fact that panax ginseng can be used to treat breast cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, bronchitis, anemia, and more. These claims are highly improbable and can cause severe danger and harm if a patient foregoes conventional treatment in favor of a panax ginseng remedy.
Wild claims aside, small scale clinical studies have shown that panax ginseng taken orally may contribute to improved abstract thinking, focus, reaction times, as well as mental arithmetic skills. There has also been some evidence indicating that panax ginseng may be beneficial to those with type 2 diabetes, thanks to its role in lowering fasting blood sugar levels. It has also been said to be effective as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, helping with depression, and an aid for relieving the symptoms of Asthma, which it accomplishes by relaxing the muscles in the lungs.
Panax Ginseng Dosage & Administration
Panax ginseng can be taken in numerous oral forms. Popular forms include capsules, panax ginseng tea, soup, red panax ginseng extract, dried root powder, and even the fresh root itself can be consumed. Panax ginseng can also be used topically, such as the panax ginseng creams which are applied to the penis for erectile dysfunction treatment. A 2002 double-blind study confirmed that Korean red panax ginseng may have a significant positive effect on impotence, as well as virility.
Panax Ginseng Side Effects
Panax ginseng has relatively few side effects and is classified by the FDA as Generally Recognized As Safe. The side-effects it does have are often overlooked by the layperson because of panax ginsengs status as a plant and a natural medicine. It is a common fallacy amongst laypeople to assume that supplements and traditional medicines taken from plants are 100% free of side effects. On close reflection, one should reason that any plant or herb that can have a positive effect on the body, could potentially have negative effects on the body as well.
Panax ginseng side effects are relatively unknown due to the minimal amount of research conducted on gingsengs healing properties. However, Panax ginseng is generally considered safe for long term health, as indicated by the Food and Drug Administration. Some individuals report mild side effects including insomnia, which is the most common reported side effect of Panax ginseng. Other Panax ginseng side effects though much more rare include menstrual disruption, breast pain, elevated heart rate, mild headache, changes in appetite, diarrhea, dizziness, and mood changes. Additionally, pregnant or lactating mothers as well as infants or young children are advised against taking panax ginseng.
Panax Ginseng Prices
Ginseng has traditionally been an expensive medicine reserved for the upper class. This is due to the fact that it grows best in mountainous regions and climates that are difficult to farm. It also takes a long time to grow a ginseng plant from plantation to harvest. Red panax ginseng takes 6 years to grow, though white panax ginseng may be harvested earlier.
Red panax ginseng root is still fairly expensive, with online prices ranging from $90-$150 for a mere 150 grams. These prices may be even more dramatic for rare, higher quality, or larger red panax ginseng. On the other hand, panax ginseng is also available more affordably if purchased in capsule or extract form, with average prices for a bottle of capsules ranging from as low as $10-$25. However, the quality and quantity of the panax ginseng found in capsules is often questionable. For those looking to use panax ginseng to boost their health, immune system, or treat a specific ailment, it is highly recommended that you research the product, manufacturer and retailer prior to purchasing. Doing so will ensure that you may fully enjoy the many health benefits and healing properties possessed by panax ginseng.