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Simples: American Ginseng

The word “simple” can have a few definitions if one were to look it up in the dictionary. One definition of simple is “easy to understand, deal with, or use.”  In reference to plants, the definition refers to an “herb or plant used for medicinal purposes.”  Obviously, as a natural health practitioner, this definition is my favorite, and I am excited to be bringing a “simple” to Natural Health Dialogue each month.  It is my hope that the information I share is “easy to understand, deal with, and use”. 

This month’s simple is American Ginseng.

Ginseng, derived from the Chinese word jen-shen meaning “the essence of man”, has long been valued in Asian countries and was once so revered that only the emperor was allowed to collect the plant.  Panax ginseng is the Asian or Korean species of ginseng and continues to be one of the most highly prized herbs in the world due to its ability to increase energy, physical stamina, and agility.

American Ginseng or Panax quinquefolius has historically been widespread in the Appalachian or Ozark regions of the U.S.   The temperate climate and shady, rich soil in these mountainous regions provide the unique requirements for the growth of ginseng. However, due to overharvesting and urban growth, the ginseng supply is far less than what it once was.  Fortunately, small doses still provide significant health benefits. 

While American Ginseng is less stimulating or energizing than Korean or Asian Ginseng, it contains similar energizing compounds called ginsenosides and a second group of compounds called panaxanes.  These compounds appear to have even more health benefits that include helping the body cope and adapt to stress, boost the immune system, and regulate blood sugar.  Ginseng also has antioxidants that are important in helping to prevent free radical damage that can cause premature aging.

This month, in our holistic dialogues, Dr. Lee has discussed digestion and how important it is for us to be digesting well.  As we age, digesting and utilizing nutrients well can become difficult.  American Ginseng’s medicinal properties make it greatly beneficial in building up and nourishing the digestive organs as well as helping the body to absorb nutrients more efficiently.

While generally safe and non-toxic there are some that should not use ginseng.  Persons with high blood pressure, acute inflammation, or acute illnesses such as cold or flu should not use ginseng.  High doses can cause insomnia and overstimulation.  However, 100 mg one to two times a day can be an effective long-term tonic for digestion, and the other health benefits listed above.

If you think American Ginseng is for you, we would love to help you here at The Health Patch.

Health and Blessings,

Kimberly Anderson, ND

Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is the Owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030 and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.