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January 17, 2012

Food As Medicine
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The Mighty All Heal Man Root

$400,000! This is highest price anyone has ever paid for a ginseng root. It was a 300-year-old root that was found in 2007. Some say that ginseng is worth the money. You be the judge.

The proper name of ginseng is Panax Ginseng (Korean Ginseng).

The word Ginseng is derived from a Chinese term, which means “man root.” Most likely because it resembles the limbs of a person (see picture above). Panax shares the same origin as “panacea” meaning “all heal”.

Put it all together and you get the “all-heal man (person) root”.

This Ginseng root was sold for $250K (US)

There are many different types of ginseng, yet they all have a similar property.  They are all adaptogenic, meaning the help us cope or adapt to mental and physical stressors.

For example, you might experience an extremely stressful day that leaves you exhausted and depleted. But if you take ginseng during the same stressful day, you don’t feel as exhausted by the end.

Using ginseng for its adaptogenic effects is just one of many ways in which ginseng can be used medicinally. There are however other uses. Here are my top 10 favourites.

10 Reasons to Take This All Heal Man (person) Root:

  • Antifatigue (mental and physical) Activity: Endurance increases with the more ginseng taken.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Lung capacity improves.
  • Diabetes: Helps stabilize fasting blood sugar. Bonus- it also elevates mood, improves psychological performance, and lowers body weight.
  • Nerve cell regeneration: Ginseng enhances cell replication and function of nerve cells, meaning it keeps us young and sprite.
  • Immunomodulation: If you’re prone to infection and colds, ginseng boosts the immune system. On the other hand, if your immune system is over active and you have an autoimmune condition, ginseng calms the immune response. Oh nature, you’ve done it again.
  • Anticancer: Promotes the death of both slow-growing and fast-growing tumors.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Ginseng has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol, triglycerides, while raising the good guys (HDL).
  • Liver detoxification: Increases liver’s clearance of harmful chemicals and promotes liver repair.
  • Erectile dysfunction: Increases sexual activity and mating behavior in male rats. Need I say more?
  • Living to 100 and beyond: Ginseng lengthens the lifespan of cells.

There are various ways to take the herb, and you don’t have to spend $400K to get the good stuff. Although, when it comes to ginseng, you get what you pay for.

Try taking it in tincture form for quick absorption. For ease, you may take capsules. Or, if you want to experience the full flavor and essence of the herb, make it into a tea – just simmer it in hot water for 20 minutes. (Use about 1 Tbsp of the herb per 1 cup of water).

The effects of Ginseng are cumulative. Try it for about 3 months to really experience the full benefit of the herb.

Remember, it doesn’t work if you don’t take it.

– Josh


References:

Brekhman II, Dardymov IV. New substances of plant origin which increase nonspecific resistance. Annu Rev Pharmacol 1969;9:419-430.

Brekhman II, Dardymov IV. Pharmacological investigation of glycosides from ginseng and Eleutherococcus. Lloydia 1969;32:46-51.

Petkov W. [Pharmacology of the drug Panax ginseng.] Arzneimittelforschung 1959;9:305-311.

Petkov W. [On the mechanism of action of Panax ginseng C.A. Mey: on the problem of a pharmacology of reactivity.2.] Arzneimittelforschung 1961;11:288-295, 418-422.

Petkov V. Effect of ginseng on the brain biogenic monoamines and 3′,5′-AMP system. Experiments in rats. Arzneimittelforschung 1978;28:388-393.

Saito H, Yoshida Y, Takagi K. Effect of Panax ginseng root on exhaustive exercise in mice. Jpn J Pharmacol 1974;24:119-127.

Petkov VD, Belcheva S, Petkov VV. Behavioral effects of Ginkgo biloba L., Panax ginseng C.A. Mey. and Gincosan. Am J Chin Med 2003;31:841-855.

Bombardelli E, Cristoni A, Lietti A. The effect of acute and chronic (Panax) ginseng saponins treatment on adrenal function; biochemical and pharmacological. In Proceedings of the 3rd International Ginseng Symposium. Seoul: Korean Ginseng Research Institute, 1980:9-16.

Cabral de Oliveira AC, Perez AC, Merino G, et al. Protective effects of Panax ginseng on muscle injury and inflammation after eccentric exercise. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol 2001;130:369-377.

Sotaniemi EA, Haapakoski E, Rautio A. Ginseng therapy in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 1995;18:1373-1375.

Nocerino E, Amato M, Izzo AA. The aphrodisiac and adaptogenic properties of ginseng. Fitoterapia 2000;71(Suppl 1):S1-S5

Wiklund IK, Mattsson LA, Lindgren R, et al. Effects of a standardized ginseng extract on quality of life and physiological parameters in symptomatic postmenopausal women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Swedish Alternative Medicine Group. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 1999;19:89-99.

Park EK, Choo MK, Han MJ, et al. Ginsenoside Rh1 possesses antiallergic and anti-inflammatory activities. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2004;133:113-120.

Yun TK, Choi SY. Non-organ specific cancer prevention of ginseng: a prospective study in Korea. Int J Epidemiol 1998;27:359-364.

Kim TH, Lee YS, Cho CK, et al. Protective effect of ginseng on radiation-induced DNA double strand breaks and repair in murine lymphocytes. Cancer Biother Radiopharm 1996;11:267-272.