Imagine having the vitality of someone in their 20s or 30s. Imagine having rock-steady energy all day—without feeling the jittery effects of caffeine. And now imagine that after years of lying dormant like a volcano, your libido explodes to life. Finally, think what it would be like to live life with emotional and mental stability day in and day out, despite the chaos of the world around you. For thousands of years, people in Asia have used ginseng—specifically, the root of Panax ginseng, one of 11 ginseng species grown throughout the world—to support a graceful aging process.
What Does Ginseng Do in Chinese Medicine?
Does ginseng’s legendary status as the king of all herbs live up to its name? That answer, of course, is subjective; it depends on each user’s experience taking the herb.
From a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective, ginseng, or Ren Shen falls in the category of herbs that tonifies Qi. If you’re feeling sluggish day after day, you have Qi deficiency. Qi is the universal life force. It’s the primordial energy of the cosmos and everything under the stars, including your organs and tissues. Taking ginseng, then, may help tonify, or strengthen your Qi, helping to support your energy levels, without relying on caffeine.
Taking ginseng may help tonify, or strengthen your Qi, providing you with a jolt of energy, without relying on caffeine.
In TCM applications, ginseng is given to those who need respiratory support, constantly feel cold, and have Blood deficiency. (Qi moves the Blood, so if one is deficient in Qi, they will also likely have Blood deficiency or stagnation.)
Ginseng especially tonifies the Qi of the Lung and Spleen. What does this mean in practical terms? If you feel slightly winded after exercise, even after a not too particularly grueling workout, ginseng may support Lung function (when respiratory function is already normal).
And if you have poor appetite and digestion, from a TCM perspective, ginseng works by harmonizing and strengthening Qi function in the Spleen, which is the main organ in TCM for transforming nutrients from food into Qi and Blood.
In addition, ginseng is also said to calm the spirit. That means that if you’re experiencing occasional anxiousness or restlessness, taking ginseng on a regular basis may help support mood.
Does Research Support Ginseng’s Ancient Uses?
There are in fact research studies that suggest ginseng offers health benefits. Much attention in research has been focused on the herb’s active constituents known as ginsenosides.
Ginsenosides have been shown to support normal oxidation levels in the tissues and blood vessels. The compounds also may help support blood circulation by influencing nitric oxide. Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas in every one of your 37 trillion cells. NO helps blood vessels relax, which allows for improved blood flow into all parts of the body, including sex organs.
One reason many people have Qi deficiency is because of wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels. Ginsenosides have been shown to support normal glucose metabolism (in individuals that already have a normal, healthy blood sugar level).
For decades, ginseng’s most marketable benefit has been its role in supporting the immune system. One research study says “ginseng has been well known as an immune modulator … [and] through numerous experiments, it was confirmed that ginseng extract enhanced phagocytic activity of macrophages.”
What’s The Difference Between Asian and American Ginseng?
The main difference is that Panax, or Asian ginseng tonifies Yang energy, which has a more warming, energetic effect. American ginseng (P. quinquefolius) is more cooling in nature and has a more calming effect.
Need an Energy Boost? Try Instant Hot Ginseng Extract Tea
Acupuncturists and Chinese medicine physicians assess Yin/Yang balance by examining the pulse patterns of the heart. If somebody presents with a very weak pulse, a formula with Ren Shen, or the herb itself, may be recommended to restore vitality.
One easy way to consume this legendary herb on a regular basis is by making an instant herbal tea. One bottle of ActiveHerb Ren Shen extract granules contains 100 servings (approximately 3 months worth). The bottle comes with a measuring gram spoon. Simply add one gram of Ren Shen to hot water and stir. Use up to three times daily.
Out of 300 or so herbs used in TCM, ginseng has rightfully earned the title “King of All Herbs.”
Do you use ginseng? Leave a comment below…