Ginseng, also known as Man's Health, Five Fingers and Tartar Root, is a creeping perennial plant that enjoys the cooler climates of the northern hemisphere. Ginseng is not one herb but three: Chinese of Korean (P. ginseng), American (P. quinquefolius), and Siberian (E. senticosus). The Siberian plant is not true ginseng, but it contains similar active chemicals, and studies show it has similar effects. The American Indians learned about ginseng from the Jesuits and used it to combat fatigue, stimulate apetite, and aid digestion. Some tribes mixed it into love potions.*
Americas 19th-century Eclectics called ginseng a stimulant for "mental exhaustion from overwork" and prescribed it for loss of apetite, indigestion, asthma, laryngitis, bronchitis, and tuberculosis. Contemporary herbalists echo the Chinese, recommending ginseng as a tonic stimulant that promotes vitality and longevity. They also suggest it for fever, inflammations, colds, coughs, respiratory problems, depression, menstrual difficulties, childbirth, and immune stimulation. Ginseng owes its healing value to several chemicals called ginsenosides. They are not fully understood, and their effects can be downright confusing. For example, some ginsenosides stimulate the central nervous system; others depress it. Some raise blood pressure; others reduce it. These observations need research. But researchers have learned a great deal about this herb and its many effects.*
Making it Make Sense
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