Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Also known as Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng is native to eastern Asia, including China, Russia and North Korea. A deciduous woodland plant, Korean ginseng grows red berries in a cluster, although it is the root which is prized. The leaves are rounded and fairly large. Wild ginseng is almost impossible to find due to overharvesting practices. It is cultivated commercially, however. Commercial ginseng is available worldwide in a variety of preparations. The plant takes at least four years to mature before it can be harvested. This herb has been used for 7,000 years in China.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Korean ginseng promotes energy and stimulates the system. It has been used as an aphrodisiac for men and a tonic for old age. Some people use it to help them cope with stress. Ginseng improves stamina and endurance, mental performance and enhances a person's overall health and feeling of vitality. Traditional Chinese medicine also uses ginseng to normalize blood sugar and blood pressure.
An adaptogen, ginseng is an herb that helps the body adapt. It reduces fatigue and can improve the coordination. It may also help the immune system to function better. Studies show promise for using ginseng to protect the liver and the heart, in regulating the reproductive hormones, in normalizing cholesterol and improving the memory.
Root The root is used medicinally.
When taken at recommended doses, ginseng is safe for most people. Do not take large doses of ginseng along with stimulants like caffeine. This herb should be avoided by people with high blood pressure, anxiety or if they are pregnant or nursing. It should also not be used by people with hypoglycemia, heart disorders, high blood pressure, asthma or insomnia. Do not take this herb with stimulants or alcohol.
Some herbalists recommend that ginseng be taken short-term only. Side effects from large doses may include insomnia, menstrual abnormalities and breast tenderness. There have been some reported interactions with MAO inhibitor drugs, warfarin, digitalis and high doses of steroids. Diabetics should consult a doctor before using ginseng.
Preparation and Dosage
Korean Ginseng is widely available commercially as dried root, powder, liquid extract, tinctures, tablets and capsules. Dosages range from 100 to 200 mg daily for most people. For tincture, 2 to 3 ml may be taken daily. It is recommended that people taking ginseng take a break from the herb regularly. If you take the herb daily for three weeks, take one or two weeks off before resuming the dosage.