An Herb for the Ages

Everything’s better with red ginseng

By Karen Frye

Ginseng has been used in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. It grows in the wild in China and Korea. There is an American ginseng, as well, and it grows wild in the mountains of North Carolina near Boone. It takes about 20 years for the ginseng root to mature. You can find it in tea, extracts and capsules.

There are about a dozen varieties of ginseng, and each variety has its own unique properties. One, however, has a reputation like no other — Korean red ginseng.

Among the reasons to seek out red ginseng root are extreme fatigue, exhaustion, brain fog, low libido and the inability to handle stress in a healthy way. Studies involving red ginseng root have found it useful in treating cancer, diabetes and hormonal imbalances, and in boosting energy levels.

While it does increase your energy, it’s not a stimulant, it is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help bring balance to the body’s systems. So, while ginseng is energizing, it’s also calming. A good substitute for that cup of coffee or pick-me-up, ginseng offers a boost while curbing stress, as well as preventing some of the common ailments that jeopardize our quality of life.

While ginseng frequently takes a couple of weeks to kick in, the results with red ginseng are usually immediate. Typically, you find men looking for ginseng (think Father’s Day), but there are benefits for women, too. Red ginseng is safe if taken as recommended. One possible side effect, however, is a reduction in blood glucose levels. Therefore, if you are diabetic, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking it.

Red ginseng is a wonderful energy tonic. It can help relieve fatigue and reduce the effects of long-term chronic stress by reducing levels of cortisol. It can give you relief from anxiety and depression while improving memory and brain functions. Ginseng has been relied upon for a very long time and remains one of the best herbs for better overall health and well-being.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

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