The word ginseng is derived from the Chinese word Jen-shen, Jen meaning human or person and shen meaning essence or sprit. The Chinese believed ginseng contained a human's essence. The roots branches are likened to arms and legs, and many believed the greater the resemblance to a human, the greater the benefits.
Most of us know ginseng to boost energy levels; it fights fatigue because it spares glycogen (glucose stored in the liver) by increasing the use of fatty acids for energy. Ginseng, however, is more than just an energy-boosting supplement.
The root contains ginsenosides. These compounds improve the bodys response to stress and betters its resistance to the effects of external stresses, both chemical and environmental. This is why many believe it to be anti-aging agent.
Ginseng is also said to stimulate protein synthesis, which speeds healing, improves the metabolism, and lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Ginseng can be beneficial for people with diabetes because it decreases the level of hormone cortisol, which interferes with the function of insulin.
The root is also said to with help menopausal discomfort. Ginseng exhibits a slight phytoestrogenic activity and may act as an antidote to decreasing estrogen levels, in turn helping with hot flashes, mood swings and other related symptoms.
Ginseng comes in many forms: whole root or pieces, powder, and liquid. There are also many products containing ginseng, however the amounts are usually too small to be effective. Ginseng is best when in its pure form.
Though there are many benefits to be had by introducing ginseng into your diet, there are also precautions to regard. Ginseng should not be taken if you are hypoglycemic, have high blood pressure, or heart conditions. It is also important to know that small amounts of ginseng appear to increase blood pressure while high amounts appear to decrease it.
when taking ginseng, it is recommended a dose be taken for no longer than
15 to 20 days, then a two-week pause before resuming. Ginseng should not
be taken for extended periods.
This article is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical advice if you have any concern about your health or physical condition, and you should always consult your physician before following the recommendations presented here.
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© Melt Magazine 2001