A root that resembles a little human body complete with two arms and legs, ginseng is one of the most popular herbs in the United States. Ginseng root has been prized in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and in modern herbology is often is combined with other herbs for numerous well-documented health benefits. But not all ginseng is created equal. Asian, Chinese and Korean ginseng are all the same plant, while American ginseng is a relative of the Asian varieties. And more importantly, the way in which the ginseng is prepared can have a very significant effect on its efficacy and side effects. For example, many of the ginseng preparations available in drug and convenience stores have little of the efficacy of traditional preparations and repeated use can often lead to significant side effects.

Traditionally, ginseng has been used to support overall health and boost the immune system. Ginseng is also thought to strengthen the body against viruses, and aid in recovery from illness. Although more study is needed, ginseng holds promise in reducing the risk of some types of cancers, slowing down or stopping the growth of tumors, improving symptoms of heart disease, lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, while raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels, lowering high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increasing alertness, and improving mental and physical performance. It is also widely accepted as helpful in boosting sexual performance. Some studies suggest that it may increase sperm production and motility, as well as decrease erection problems and symptoms of menopause. For adrenal health, ginseng is often utilized as an adaptogen, which is thought to help the body deal with physical or mental stress. Ginseng carries with it a possibility of interaction and intolerance, and may cause nervousness or sleeplessness, especially when combined with caffeine.

Herbs like Ginseng can be very effective at supporting many functions in our bodies, but should always be implemented with the guidance of an appropriately trained practitioner. At Heart of Wellness all our acupuncturists have extensive training in the traditional and modern use of herbal medicines and can safely guide you.  And when working with these wonderful herbs and a trained practitioner you will avoid any interactions that can occur with other medications and supplements.

To help you know if herbal remedies are best for you in your quest for better health, give our office a call at 360 570-0401 and book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable acupuncturists today.

Asian Ginseng. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Asian Ginseng. University of Maryland Medical Center.

( photo credit leungchopan/ )

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