Root Up

FOR UNTOLD thousands of years the root of Panax ginseng has been usedby Asian healers as an all-round tonic, said to increase the potency ofone’s Qi, which probably best equates with what Westerners might calllife force. A great deal of 100 percent owl puckie has been slung concerningthe powers of this unglamorous groundcover.

As you can guess, most of them centered on sexual potency, and it was as analleged aphrodisiac that ginseng made fortunes for its savvy traders.

Sexual potency aside, alternative practitioners classify it as an adaptogenand provide anecdotal support for ginseng as an energy booster (that’s whythose vials of Tiger Ginseng are sold at gas stations and 7-Elevens), as astress fighter, and to restore youthful vigor.

In a controversial 1995 study conducted by Consumer Reports, 10different ginseng products were found to have wildly varying amounts of theactive ingredient–ginsenoside–and at least one of the brands contained noneat all. Soviet studies support ginseng’s powers as an immune system stimulantand a protector of liver function. And ginseng may reduce cholesterol levels.

Ginseng is on the FDA list of “safe” herbs. I wouldn’t start the morningwithout 10 drops of Siberian and 10 drops of Korean ginseng in my orangejuice.

From the January 16-22, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent

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