American ginseng, Panax quinquefolium, a member of the Araliaceae family, grows naturally in North America. There are many stories as to how it was discovered and came to be cultivated in China. According to one of them, a French Jesuit who was traveling across Mandjuria at the beginning of the 16th century tried it out and was so impressed that he wrote an article about it. In his writing he observed that if the herb was to be found anywhere else on the earth, it would have to be in Canada where the landscape resembled that of Mandjuria . Another Jesuit missionary, living in Canada at the time, read the article on ginseng and started to look systematically for it in the woods where he lived. Luckily, one day the missionary came across the plant near his cottage. Samples of the new American ginseng were sent to China and around 1718 a busy trade began in it between the two countries. This kind of ginseng is considered to be the most balanced. It simultaneously boosts both Yin and Yang energies. The American or Tienqi ginseng cools the body and is suitable for people who are easily excited or angered. It might be used in hot summer days when need be. It also assists recovery from such diseases as chronic bronchitis and tuberculosis.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherian)
This variety of ginseng originates from the woods of Eastern Russia and for this reason is also known as Siberian ginseng. Its Latin name is ELEUTHEROCOCUS SENTICOSUS. It was discovered in the 1950s by the Russian doctor Bekhman. After twenty-year in-depth research and trial, Bekhman came to the conclusion that this amazing plant enhances body adaptation to stress levels naturally regulating its functions – a real adaptogenic herb. Siberian ginseng is used by athletes to enhance their physical endurance. It assists them to recover quicklu and entirely after total exhaustion in intensive training.
Usually it can be taken over longer periods of time, without causing increase in estrogen and protesteron levels. Siberian ginseng is more suitable than Asian ginseng in severe stress situations. However, if your energy is extremely low or you are recovering from a chronic disease, you had better have Asian ginseng. As it has already been stated, Siberian ginseng is really adaptogenic. This means, if blood sugar levels are low, it raises them, or vice versa, lowers them, if they were initially high. It can also be of great help in adjusting to time zones or altitude changes. The alleviating effect most probably results from enhanced energy metabolism and increased tissue oxidation with higher lactate and piruvat burns. Siberian ginseng is also effective in relieving menopause symptoms such as sudden mood swings or oversensitivity.
Asian (Chinese) Ginseng
The original or true ginseng has been used in Eastern medicine for more than 4000 years for boosting the vital energy Qi. The probable reason for this must be the alleged ginseng properties to absorb and store in its root the vital energy of the earth. According to Chinese medicine if you take this particular kind of ginseng, you introduce a great amount of Yang energy into the body. Such treatment becomes highly important for anyone as a body starts losing Yang energy with the age or in a consequence of heavy diseases or chronic sufferings. In such cases ginseng should be administered in smaller doses for a period of a month, followed by a three-month break. If used as a prophylactic means, higher doses might be prescribed regardless of age, but product-time-intake should not exceed two weeks. Ginseng is not suitable for hot summer days, because sun rays have the same Yang energy and might interfere with the treatment, causing intake side effects. Exception of the rule is possible for people, recuperating from chronic diseases. However, one should have in mind that any excessive use can cause anxiety, headache and high blood pressure. If we observe the intake principles, we can enjoy this wonderful herb which boosts our energy levels. But remember: each herb should be administered according to age, body-structure type and particular disease. The belief that the longer some herb is taken, the better the results is unjustified and stays unjustified. Like other medications, herbs should also be used expediently. After all, there exist so many different forms, doses and combinations to choose from.
Depending on the way they are processed, ginseng roots can be white or red. The freshly dried Chinese ginseng roots are the softest form of Asian ginseng and are suitable for children and younger people. Red roots age over 6 years and are steam-processed in order to obtain their specific red colour. In the East red ginseng is an eminent part of traditional herbal prescriptions. It is used to aid patients’ recovery after severe or prolonged ailments or treatments – after operations, chemio- or ray therapy; to improve blood picture, to boost appetite and immune system, to assist nutrition assimilation. Ginseng is the ideal remedy for weary people or exhausted organisms of chronic patients. Yet with healthy people, or those prone to irritation spells, this variety of ginseng might cause anxiety and insomnia. White ginseng is suitable for children and young people prone to getting down with common illnesses or suffering a lack of appetite. Finally, if you would like to boost your immune system during cold winter months, you might be willing to drink ginseng tea which in Chinese herbal prescriptions is always combined with green tea.
Indian Ginseng (Pseudo or Ashwagandha)
Pseudo ginseng grows in Butan and North-eastern India. This plant is a close relation to Asian ginseng, but unlike the latter it cannot be used as an energy-boosting remedial agent. Its properties to alleviate pains and boost blood circulation make the herb preferable in injury treatments. During the Vietnam War, the herb was widely used for easier healing of wounds caused by firearms.
The chemical composition of the various ginseng plants is quite similar, but their slight differences define the specific effect of each and every of them.
Siberian ginseng contains glucosides, known as eleutherosides, and polysaccharides of glyco-type, called eleutherans, as well as glucose, maltose and sucrose. Asian ginseng contains ginsenosides. The levels of ginsenosides differ in the various kinds of ginseng. Ginseng also contains ethereal oil, sterols and polysaccharides, basically pectin and glycans, sugar, vitamins (В1,В2,В12), panthoten acid, holyn and minerals
Secuiterpeаn alcohols can be found only in Asian ginseng.