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ginseng root is one of nature's greatest giftS!

Despite being one of the most popular herbs in the United States, most people know very little about ginseng. In Asia, ginseng root was said to resemble the human form and, due to this, was said to energize the whole body. In fact, part of the Latin name for ginseng, Panax, comes from the Greek word meaning "all-healing".

 

What is ginseng?

Ginseng is a short, slow-growing perennial plant with fleshy roots, belonging to the Araliaceae botanical family. It grows naturally in the Northern Hemisphese in eastern Asia (mostly northern China, Korea, and eastern Siberia).

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How was ginseng discovered?

Ginseng was found in the mountains of Northern China over 5,000 years ago. It was initially used as food, but was primarily used for medical purposes around 3,000 years ago.

Ginseng has been one of the most highly respected herb since antiquity by both Chinese and Native American herbalists. Chinese emperors revered ginseng and were more than willing to pay for ginseng with its weight in gold. China's demand for wild root afforded Korea the opportunity to maintain a thriving export business that dates back to the third century AD. In the sixteenth century, Korea cultivated the world's first farmed ginseng root.

In America, ginseng was used by several North American Indian nations. It is estimated that American settlers discovered ginseng in the mid-1700's in New England.

Due to ginseng's unique properties and incredible popularity, over-hunting has become a huge problem in China. Wild ginseng has become extremely rare.

History of Ginseng

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Ginseng Root

What are the types of ginseng?

What are the medical benefits of ginseng?

How to use ginseng?

 

Various types of ginseng

Ginsengs are usually categorized by the place they are found or the color of them. There are six major species:

•  American Ginseng
•  Asian Ginseng
•  Dwarf Ginseng
•  Notoginseng
•  Japanese Ginseng
•  Siberian Ginseng

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American Ginseng (panax quinquefolius)

American ginseng is the most common name of Panax quinquefolius, a species of ginseng that is native to eastern North America: from southern Ontario to Georgia and as far west as Wisconsin. Panax quinquefolius is now also grown in China. Panax quinquefolius is believed to give a cooling effect to the body. This cooling effect is said to have energy-giving, endurance-enhancing properties and is believed to be the most beneficial for our fast-paced, stress-filled world.

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Asian Ginseng (panax ginseng)

Asian, Korean, or Chinese ginseng (all common names) refers to a plant native to North Korea and China known as panax ginseng. A derivation of this is red ginseng, a processed product that is made from steaming Korean-grown "white ginseng" for 8 - 10 hours and then drying; often red ginseng is processed further into tea, capsules or slices. Panax ginseng is said to warm the body.

 

Panax GinsengRed Ginseng Legs

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Dwarf Ginseng (panax trifolium)
Dwarf Ginseng Plant

Dwarf Ginseng, also called ground nut, was harvested by Indians and settlers as a source of food. It is similar to American Ginseng, panax quinquefolius. Other than the differences in structure, such as possessing no stems on the leaflets and bearing a yellow fruit, it is notable for the short period it is above ground. By summer, the dwarf ginseng is completely withered and gone.

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Notoginseng (panax pseudoginseng)

Panax notoginseng or Panax pseudoginseng are the scientific names commonly used to refer to notoginseng. This herb is also referred to as pseudoginseng. Panax pseudoginseng is not an adaptogen like the better known panax species, but it is famous as a hemostatic herb that both invigorates and supports blood production.

 

Notoginseng grows naturally in China and Japan. The herb is a perennial, with dark green leaves branching from a stem with a red cluster of berries in the middle. It is both cultivated and gathered from wild forests, with wild plants being the most valuable. The Chinese refer to it as "three-seven root" because the plant has three branches with seven leaves each. It is also said that the root should be harvested between three and seven years after planting it.

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Japanese Ginseng (panax japonicum)

Panax japonicum is found in Japan and it is known as Japanese ginseng. It is cultivated from seeds that originated from China or Korea. Possibly because it is not native to Japan, panax japonicum is said to have less health benefit and is cheaper in price.

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Siberian Ginseng (eleutherococcus senticosis)

Siberian ginseng is a commonly found plant that is given the common name of ginseng. However, it is not a true ginseng. It is related to the ginseng group as they both are in the Araliaceae family of plants, but it is not from the genus panax. Siberian ginseng does not contain the compounds known as ginsenosides in its root; however, they are said to have chemicals. Siberian ginseng is grown mainly in Russia and China and is native to East Russia and down to the Japanese island of Hokkaido. What are ginsenosides?

 

 

Russian Ginseng

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What are Ginsenoside?

Ginsenosides are a class of steroid glycosides, and triterpene saponins, found exclusively in the plant genus Panax (ginseng). Ginsenosides have been the target of research, as they are viewed as the active compounds behind the claims of ginseng's efficacy. Because ginsenosides appear to affect multiple pathways, their effects are complex and difficult to isolate.

Benefits of ginseng

Ginseng has been used to treat an astonishing variety of ailments, from Alzheimer's disease to diabetes to gout.

The Chinese use ginseng to "warm" the body; in particular, they believe that daily intake of ginseng will increase the body's energy over the long-term. By contrast, American ginseng is thought to "cool" the body, relieving stress, and increasing physical and mental endurance.

Recent research into the benefits of ginseng indicates that it may be a powerful method to reduce cholesterol and prevent cancer. Other research has indicated that ginseng can be helpful for easing hot flashes in menopausal women and normalizing menstruation in others.

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Precautions of ginseng

The following people should consult a doctor before they use any products containing ginseng: children, pregnant women, breast-feeding women, high blood pressure patients, type 2 diabetes patients who are taking oral prescription medications to lower blood sugar levels, people who is going to have abdominal or dermatology surgery, or dental extraction.

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Side effects of ginseng

According to a Sports Nutrition FAQ, published by the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, one of panax ginseng's most common side effects is the inability to sleep. Other side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, and mastalgia. Ginseng may also lead to induction of mania in patients with depresstion who mix it with antidepressants. These side effects are normally called ginseng abuse syndrome for which people use more than 3 grams per day and taking ginseng for a long period of time.

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How to use ginseng?
Ginseng Capsules

Ginseng's main benefit derives from its use as a preventative. Most experts recommend 500 to 1500 mg (milligrams) per day to see results in the long-term. However, those trying to use ginseng in a therapeutic manner should use 2000 mg per day.

 

Although ginseng is considered a medicinal herb, it is also incorporated into cooking and teas. The most common uses for the whole ginseng root, ginseng tea cut, and ginseng slices are in soups and teas. These items can also be eaten or "chewed on" without any type of preparation. Ginseng capsules are very popular with consumers that are accustomed to cooking or would like something more convenient.

 

Ginseng is not only for internal use. It is sometimes being made into cosmetic products for treating wrinkles and aged skin.

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Cooking with ginseng

Most people are aware of the ginseng tea but many are not aware that ginseng is also frequently used in cooking.

 

The root can be sliced and put into soups and often boiled and mashed, added to stir fry dishes, and added to boiling water when making rice. It is much more common for cooking in Chinese, Korean, and Asian foods.

Ginseng Chicken Soup

Ginseng Chicken Soup
(Korean: Samgyetang)

 

Samgyetang is a Korean soup which primarily consists with young chicken and Korean ginseng. It is traditionally served in the summer for the replacement of lost through excessive sweating and physical exertion during the hot summer days.

Ginseng Chicken Soup Recipe

 

Ingredients:

1 small chicken (Cornish hen), 1/4 cup of sweet rice, a dozen cloves of garlic, green onions, a few jujubes (Korean dates), and 1 or 2 small ginseng roots.

 

Preparation:

  1. Wash and rinse your chicken in cold running water.
  2. Soak 1/4 cup of sweet rice for 1 hour.
  3. Stuff the chicken with the sweet rice, a ginseng root, a few jujubes, and 3-4 cloves of garlic. Place it in a pot.
  4. Pour water into the pot and boil it over high heat for 20 minutes. When it starts boiling, skim off any foam and fat that rises to the surface Then pour in more water and boil it over medium heat for 40 minutes.
  5. When it cooks properly, the chicken will be easily pulled apart by chopsticks.
  6. Serve it with salt and pepper and kimchi or kaktugi.

Notoginseng Chicken Soup

(Chinese: Tian Qi Chicken Soup)

 

Tian Qi chicken soup is a Chinese herbal soup which primarily consists with sliced notoginseng. Adults take this soup for improvement of skin texture, refreshment of the mind and energizing the body. Adolescents take this for growth.

Notoginseng Chicken Soup

Notoginseng Chicken Soup Recipe

 

Ingredients:

1 fresh chicken, 10 cups of water, 40g notoginseng, and 3 slices fresh ginseng root, 1 teaspoon salt to taste.

 

Preparation:

  1. Clean and half your chicken then scalded with boiling water.
  2. Bring the water to boil in a stockpot.
  3. Put all the ingredients, except the salt, and cook over high heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.
  5. Season with the salt and remove from the heat.
  6. Serve hot in individual serving bowls.

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Preparing ginseng tea

While making the ginseng tea, about 2-3 grams of ground ginseng is required. This equals about 3-4 slices of ginseng root, a teaspoon of powder, or one teabag.

 

Steep the ginseng in the hot water for about 4-5 minutes.

 

For making additional cup, reuse of the ginseng slices or teabag for about 15 seconds is acceptable.

Ginseng Tea

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More Information

There are many free resources on the web for ginseng information.

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