Will Oriental wonders never cease? First it was the egg roll, followed by the hand laundry, then acupuncture, and now the miracle of all miracles ginseng!

Two distinct schools of thought exist about this drug (pronounced jin-sen or jin-san) from Mother Nature’s medicine chest. Orientals have extolled the virtues of ginseng for practically all of recorded time, almost- seven thousand years. Many Orientals, and an increasing number of Westerners, would never think of letting a day go by without their daily ginseng fix. Yet, the ever-conservative American medical community still tends to look at ginseng with a scornful and disbelieving eye. As a result, many people in this country are still unaware, of the potential benefits this plant may offer.

Consider just a few of ginseng’s purported values. It prolongs life, helps prevent a wide variety of diseases and disorders including anemia, diabetes, neurasthenia, and gastritis, strengthens the heart, nerves, and glands, increases and regulates the flow of hormones, increases sexual potency, reduces susceptibility to certain poisons, helps patients to regain strength after illness, improves blood circulation, aids digestion, and provides greater powers of endurance and energy. All in all, believers — many of whom are: members of the world’s academic and scientific communities-agree that , ginseng root, when used properly, can bring about an improvement in one’s overall health.

Technically, ginseng is not a medicine for the treatment of` specific diseases. It does seem to help people become more disease-resistant and to feel and function better, however.

Ginseng is made from the wrinkled, shriveled root of’ the Panax schinseng plant. It is interesting to note that the Latin; name Panax is closely related to the word “panacea”; if you believe in literal translations, that should give you some clue as to its potential benefits.

While the American pharmacological community has refused to study the drug seriously, the Russians have been. giving it -a close; hard look for the past seventeen years.

Because of its unique qualities, they have created a new drug classification for ginseng. They call it an “adaptogen,” which, by definition, means any substance that improves the ability o€ the organism taking it to withstand the action of a variety of adverse environmental factors. Russian cosmonauts have used ginseng during their space missions. Specific studies done by the Russians indicate that animals and people who are fed ginseng live longer, are better able to resist leukemia and other types of cancer, are better protected from the hazards of exposure to X-ray and other radiation, and are better able to withstand and, recover from the debilitating effects of heart disease.

Whether you believe in the health-giving properties of ginseng or not, don’t worry about giving it a try. In virtually any quantity ginseng is harmless and nontoxic. You can take it whether you feel good or not. Either way it is safe and won’t do you a bit of harm.

Many ginseng devotees talk about the plant’s aphrodisiac powers, Although that: is still a hotly debated topic, consider this: if you feel good, you’re more likely to have a good sex life, and vice versa. Thus, if ginseng can have a tonic effect on your overall well-being …

The major active constituents of ginseng are panaxin, panacene, panaxic acid,’ phenolase, amylase, schingenin, Vitamins B, and B2, and’ saponins. Taken separately or together, these goodies can help sharpen the medulla, stimulate the heart and arteries, relax the nervous system, and promote good metabolism.

If you’re planning to try ginseng, make sure you buy an effective variety, as there are many kinds from which to choose. Short of a visit to the Orient, the best place to seek the stuff out is at health-food stores. They usually stock a wide variety of types, at a range of prices to match. The very best is Korean red ginseng; the product. of a long, demanding growing process that lasts six years and results from cultivation in a climate that is ideal. Strictly controlled by that country’s government, Korean red ginseng is grown in specially treated soil with no chemical fertilizers added. Next best on the quality list would be Korean white ginseng. Not as, good as red, but not all that bad either. American ginseng (which actually comes from a different plant, Panax quinquefolium) is sold for the most part to Americans and Chinese unable to afford the better varieties. Japanese ginseng is the lowest quality. Stick with their cameras-you’ll do a lot better: No mattes what kind you buy, try to get wild ginseng rather than the cultivates) variety, as the former is reputed to be a lot more potent.

To ingest a dose, one of several methods can be chosen. If you don’t mind the bitter taste, the most effective method is chewing. ‘Cake an inch-long piece of root, about as thick as a pencil, and chew it thoroughly every three or four hours; It may be rechewed three or four times before completely losing its potency. A teaspoon of shaved root or root filaments `

boiled in a pint of water for about ten minutes makes a healthful ginseng tea. Sip it slowly and try to keep it in your mouth for a while, since saliva helps, activate ginseng to its highest . Level of performance. Though your brew’ is done, don’t throw away the leftover pulp. It can be reused several times to make more tea before it begins to lose its potency. When you are done using and reusing the pulp as the base for your drink, you can simply chew and swallow it. Good to the last drop. Powdered root can be mixed in a cup of any beverage you like, hot or cold. Use 1 /4 to 1 /2 teaspoon per cup and sip slowly so that your saliva gets a chance to activate the ginseng. If your beverage seems too bitter, feel free to add sweetener, but: try to avoid refined. sugar, since that won’t do your: health much good. Some people who have been using ginseng for a long time suggest combining it with another herb, fo-ti-tieng (gotu kola), which is available in most health-food-outlets.

Don’t look for any unusual feeling after dawning, your brew or having your chew. It won’t be there. You might notice some feeling of mild stimulation, but that’s about it. Those who believe in ginseng don’t fool around with it on a one-shot .basis; It becomes a daily part of their lives, like taking vitamins. You have nothing to lose but a few cents a day, and possibly a great deal to gain.

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