The History

The English word ginseng derives from the Chinese term rén shen. Rén means "man" and shen means a root; this refers to the root's forked shape, which resembles the legs of a man. The Ginseng root is quoted as the “Manifestation of the essence of the earth (shen) in the form of a man (Ren)” or more simply ‘man root’. Other names were also given such as magical herb, divine root, and root of life.

The relationship between Ginseng and man goes back 5000 years ago when it was first discovered in the mountains of Manchuria, China. Very quickly the root became revered for its health and life giving properties. Its human shape became a powerful symbol of divine harmony on earth. In 221 B.C. 3,000 foot soldiers were sent by the emperor Shongtjie to find wild ginseng as it was believed that “The root which is dug from the earth and strengthens the nerves. The strength of the horse, the mule, the goat, the ram, moreover the strength of the bull it bestows on him. This herb will make thee so full of lusty strength that thou shalt, when excited, exhale heat as a thing of fire.”

The Constituents

The root of ginseng contains a resin, sugar, starch, mucilage, a saponin, a volatile oil and several steroid compounds.

Ginsenosides, as noted in the medicinal properties, are powerful adaptogens. Also containing strong antioxidant components they help the body to recover from stress, fatigue and illness. Saponins are anti inflammatory, analgesic, anticonvulsant and they also help to regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Panaxtriol is one of several steroid compounds found in ginseng. These compounds are remarkably similar to anabolic steroids which are found in the human body. This suggests a safe alternative for athletes to use, instead of synthetic steroids.

Another component found in ginseng root is germanium. Germanium has a powerful hydrogenating effect on the body and especially on organs such as the liver. It is said that a trained herbalist should be able to tell the quality of ginseng by the smell and appearance and taste.

The Benefits

As we have seen, through generations of time, ginseng has been considered a remarkable herb, endowed with magical powers and held as sacred by certain cultures. Credited mainly with tonic properties of longevity, endurance strength memory improvement and aphrodisiac qualities, below are some of the other benefits ascribed to ginseng.

Longevity

Memory improvement

Stress reduction

Normalization of blood pressure.

Immune system enhancement

Normalization of blood sugar.

Libido enhancement.

Lowering of cholesterol

Prevention of blood clots

Energy/stamina

Other recognized uses are for gastric disturbances, lack of appetite, lowering of blood sugar and cholesterol levels, increasing resistance to disease, stimulating and increasing endocrine activity, supporting liver function, shock, chronic illness, nausea and vomiting, impotence and sterility, rheumatism and mental health, diabetes, as well as helping with the effects of alcohol or drugs. Christopher Hobbs notes its promise in helping with those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. “Through a number of psychometric tests designed to evaluate psychological and physical status, it was determined that the patients were improved in many of the areas studied, especially levels of attention and concentration. The change was statistically significant.” [

He also mentions ginsengs ability to relieve hangover symptoms because of increased alcohol clearance from the body.

Known as a universal remedy Ginseng herb has wide usage, especially in the Orient.

Alternative medicine is widely used by many people looking for an effective and safe way not only to heal from illness, but also to prevent illness. When a plant resembles a part of the human anatomy, it is said to be beneficial for that particular part of the body. As ginseng resembles a man it is believed to be beneficial for the whole system. As man is made up of many elements so ginseng is believed to synergistically restore health and harmony to the body. This harmony is expressed as Yin and Yang in the Chinese culture and is held to be essential to a healthy body and a peaceful spirit.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References:

Fulder, Stephen. Dr. The Ginseng Book, Nature’s Ancient Healer. 1996. Avery Publishing Group. Garden City Park, New York. 1996.

Shizhen Li Compendium of Materia Medica (Bencao Gangmu) (In 6 Volumes) Original publication 1596 A.D. Translator & Annotator: Luo Xiwen , ISBN: 7119032607, 2004

Father Jartoux. The Memoir of the Royal Academy in Paris, First published in 1709. Later translated in English in “The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London”. 1711

The Journal of the American Medical Association July 26th 2000. American Medical Association P.O. Box 10946, Chicago, IL 60610-0946

Dianasue Holland, GINSENG published on herballegacy.com

Hobbs, Christopher. L.Ac. The Ginsengs A User’s Guide. 1996. Botanica Press, 10226, Empire Grade, Santa Cruz, CA 95060


Heffern, Richard, Complete Book of Ginseng” 1976, Celestial Arts, 231 Adrian Road, Millbrae, CA. 94030.
Shen Nung Pen Tshao Ching, The Pharmacopoeia of the Heavenly Husbandman. Printed 2nd Century BC.
Duke. James “Ginseng: a concise handbook. 1989” Reference Publications, Inc., 218 St. Clair River Drive, Box 344, Algonac, MI 48001, 273 pp

Dharmananda, Subhuti Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon. SAFETY ISSUES AFFECTING CHINESE HERBS:The Case of Ginseng