Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks


American Ginseng and Sports
Brian Benjamin Carter

Question: "Hello, I'm an 18-year-old male and I have started taking ginseng recently. I have searched the Internet to find good information but I'm not sure who to trust. I would like to know what is the limit to ginseng consumption per day and possible dangers.

I only take American ginseng in tea. Also I would really appreciate it if you could tell me the physical benefits of ginseng in sports. Thank you in advance..."

Answer: If you haven't read my introduction to ginseng please do so! Especially note the points about whether you really need ginseng or if some other herb might be better. A la that article, I think the more important thing is to backtrack and ask you why you want to take ginseng. The information in the popular literature is pretty weak, so people equate ginseng with energy. And that's not totally incorrect, but it's more complicated than that. Let me illustrate by saying what kinds of things can go wrong if you take chinese or korean ginseng and it's the wrong herb for you: headaches, facial flushing, feelings of heat, anger, rage, high blood pressure, and stroke.

American ginseng is more balanced in itself, but last time I checked it was an endangered plant due to excess foraging... so at least be aware of how aware the company you buy from is about their sources.

I can't say strongly enough that I think that the amateur self-prescription of herbs is one of the most dangerous legal things out there.

In my view, the public has a couple of choices with herbs:

  1. Start developing a collection of herbs and vitamins that you take because 'if you need energy you should take ginseng' or 'if you want to think better take gingko' or 'if you want to sleep take valerian' and end up like some people who are taking about 10 different things and have no idea how they might adversely interact with one other and whatever pharmaceuticals they are also taking, or
  2. Go see a health profession who is trained in these things and can advise you. My bias is that you see an acupuncturist who is trained in chinese herbs (find a practitioner in your area). Going this route is safer, more reliable, and more likely to improve things for you. It's more expensive, but how important is your health to you?

Hope that helps! Yours in Health,


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