Ginseng is the best known and most popular
Chinese herb. It is known as the "King" of Chinese herbs.
With Ginseng, you get what you pay for. Some roots cost thousands
of dollars. Most consumers will not be seeking the highest quality
Ginseng. The more affordable Codonopsis Root (Dang Shen) may be
substituted in most situations.
All ginseng is not created equal. There are three major types of ginseng, compared
in the table below.
(Xi Yang Shen)
(Gao Li Shen)
|Least effect on qi of
||Stronger effect on qi than Am. Ginseng.
||Strongest effect on qi of
||HOT (red in color)
|Nourishes the yin (its best use)
||Generates fluids, stops thirst
||Very bad to use when yin deficient.
|Good for fever/coughing up blood
||May cause headache/anger/etc.
The average consumer who walks down
the herb aisle in the drug store may be unaware of the consequences
of their choices. The popular conception that ginseng
equals energy, much like coffee equals energy
is not necessarily so.
If you are looking for energy, first of all, you need to be sure that you really need it. Many people
would never feel that they have enough energy. Some people
may actually be Yin Deficient with Heat signs. In this case, the
appearance of energy (which may be scattered and manic) is really
heat and, underneath, the person is deficient.
This is analogous to spending money on a credit card when you're
already in debt. You appear to be rich, but your finances are
actually in very bad shape. You can spend what you do not have
but you will pay the price.
The price may be your sanity, or other health problems down the
road. These peoplewould do better to nurture their yin, which
is deficient, and spend less energy. Look at American Ginseng;
it nourishes the yin and benefits the qi. The heat of
yin deficiency sometimes manifests as excess energy in the head:
headaches, and tempers flaring. Anyone with heat signs like this
would actually be harmed by Panax or Korean Ginseng.
It is liable to make your headaches and temper worse.
is considered an endangered species due to excess harvesting.
If you plan on using it, the ethical thing would be to grow it
yourself, or at least be knowledgeable of the source of your Ginseng.
If you really need energy,
you might not even take Panax Ginseng (Ren Shen). Traditionally,
it is used for the elderly, or in extreme health situations. The
more common, and more affordable, choice is Codonopsis Root (Dang
table shows that moderate situations
call for codonopsis root, while serious situations, or extreme
age call for panax ginseng.
Root (Dang Shen)
Panax Ginseng (Ren Shen)
"supports the normal"
|Spleen qi deficiency
||Lung Qi deficiency
||Collapse of Qi
|Lack of appetite, fatigue, weak limbs,
||Cough, shortness of breath, reluctance
||Heavy sweating, cold hands and feet,
sagging jaw, closed eyes, incontinence
||Shock, loss of consciousness
When NOT to take Ginseng:
If you have headaches, palpitations, insomnia, pregnant, hysteric,
manic or schizophrenic do not take ginseng. If you have very high
blood pressure (systolic >180mmHg), and/or are hypertensive,
do not take panax ginseng.
|headaches, anger, palpitations, insomnia,
pregnant, hysteric, manic or schizophrenic, very high
blood pressure (systolic >180mmHg), hypertension, yin
||Stomach problems (damp-cold of Stomach)
It is important to know what
the things you are putting in your body
are going to do for you, and to you.
And if you just want to dig a hole in your garden,
it's probably better to use a shovel than a stick of dynamite!