Here’s the gist on gin­seng

Best Health - - CONTENTS - by MEGHAN TELP­NER*


Gin­seng — be­yond be­ing rather fun to say (go on, say it!) — is a pow­er­ful and pop­u­lar herbal rem­edy, com­monly used in Chi­nese medicine. We of­ten see it pro­moted in drinks and sup­ple­ments pur­ported to in­crease en­ergy, stamina, and longevity. You know those small glass vials you of­ten see at the check­outs of gas sta­tions and va­ri­ety stores? Di­luted gin­seng! It’s avail­able nearly ev­ery­where, but, of course, qual­ity and ap­pli­ca­tion will vary.

Though there are dif­fer­ent types of gin­seng, Amer­i­can gin­seng (Panax quin­que­folius) is one of the most preva­lent. It’s a peren­nial plant, part of the ivy fam­ily. It is na­tive to North Amer­ica but is of­ten cul­ti­vated in China, and is a com­mon medic­i­nal plant in Chi­nese medicine.

The roots are the most fre­quently used in herbal medicine, but the leaves carry some of the same magic, are eas­ier to har­vest and can have more far-reach­ing culi­nary ap­pli­ca­tions.


Feel­ing a bit tired? A lit­tle stressed? If you’re not then you know some­one who is, so it’s no won­der gin­seng has be­come such a pop­u­lar herb. Though the dif­fer­ent types of the herb can have dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions, the pri­mary ac­tion is to boost en­ergy with­out the jit­ters that too of­ten come with caf­feine. But wait — there’s more!

Gin­seng can also help re­duce feel­ings of stress, boost the im­mune sys­tem, and im­prove brain func­tion and heart health; it also has can­cer pre­ven­ta­tive prop­er­ties. Over­all, reg­u­lar, mod­er­ate use of gin­seng has been shown to im­prove qual­ity of life. Now, I know you want in on this club!


Though the vials at the gas sta­tion and those sug­ary en­ergy drinks may be tempt­ing, there is likely not enough herb in them for you to feel the ben­e­fits. The most ef­fec­tive way to en­joy gin­seng is to take it as a sup­ple­ment (ei­ther cap­sule or tinc­ture). How­ever, as I al­ways love to go the culi­nary route, I rec­om­mend pop­ping over to your lo­cal Chi­na­town or herb shop and get­ting the whole root to sim­mer up in a tea or to add to your chicken soup or stock.

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