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Ginseng: problems.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Ginseng Pros/Cons?
From: stacey.uoknor.edu (Stacey B. Martin)
Date: 9 Mar 1994 22:14:51 GMT

tdonovan.netcom.com (Jack Donovan) wrote:
> What are the benefits to ginseng usage?
> Have any been corroborated by studies?
> What are the pharmacological actions?
> Any known negatives/side effects to its use?

Benefits:
Dr. Li, my Chinese doctor, uses a combination of 2 ginsengs (70%), bee pollen, and deer antler for depression, extremely low energy, and Alzheimer's. It has other effects, because ginseng is adaptogenic - blood sugar level is regulated, and because it stimulates the adrenals, other hormones are stimulated. (I'd call it an aphrodisiac of sorts.) It stimulates the immune system, and American is good for chronic illnesses.

Negative:
It is not used for long periods of time for those who have hot conditions (in Chinese diagnostics), because it is very warming and stimulating.

Stacey


From: weigand.stimpy.eecis.udel.edu (Steven Weigand)

> stimulates the adrenals, other hormones are stimulated. (I'd call it an aphrodisiac of sorts.)

You're telling me! No, it's not an aphrodisiac, really. It's very subtle and gradual. When you first start taking ginseng, it feels like nothing much has happened to you. But over the course of a week, you (men) will start feeling hornier than ever before. I feel this is due to ginseng triggering the realease of a hormone that tells the testicles to produce more sperm. I've had my testicles swell noticeably from taking ginseng.

Apart from that, I've used ginseng to get rid of "colds and flus in the making". By that I mean that whenever I would feel slightly under the weather, I would feel my lymph nodes and if they were larger than normal, I'd take some ginseng (panax red extract). The colds/flus seemed to go away pretty fast (usually it prevented them from ever happening).

It also does add energy to my body. I've been able to wake up after getting less sleep than normal feeling quite refreshed and ready to tackle the day. (Take a tablet of powdered siberian ginseng before bed.) I'd also note wild vivid dreams when I am taking ginseng. It's almost as if the ginseng is increasing gamma and theta wave activity during REM dreaming. Scientists have developed sleep chambers that use lights and sounds to increase your theta / gamma waves while dreaming and have had people waking up after 2 hours of sleep feeling like they had been asleep for 8 hours. I don't know if it's the same thing, perhaps just orders of magnitude more subtle.

> It is not used for long periods of time for those who have hot conditions (in Chinese diagnostics), because it is very warming and stimulating.

I'll agree here! Don't take ginseng in large doses for extended periods of time. I tried it and, apart from my testicles feeling like they were going to explode, I felt lots of extra energy in my head, enough to cause a headache, but I didn't let it go that far.

Also, avoid caffeine and non-herbal teas while taking it. Tea has iron in it, which is supposed to be a "nasty" thing to take while on ginseng. The caffeine and ginseng combination will screw your nervous system (of course, I'm speaking mostly from my chi kung sensitivity). I think an occasional coca cola or a tea or coffee in the morning is okay (one cup per day, no more). If you overdo it, you may feel the "caffeine jitters" amplified by the ginseng. It will also force you to eat more, because your body is wasting a lot of heat.

All of the above is my own personal observations. I'm not an MD or a practicing TCM student or whatever. I'm just super sensitive when it comes to my body's energy system (chi). You may try experimenting with ginseng like I did and report your observations to the group.

Ciao,
- Steve Weigand


From: nkraft.crash.cts.com (Norman Kraft)

stacey.uoknor.edu (Stacey B. Martin) writes:
>weigand.stimpy.eecis.udel.edu (Steven Weigand) wrote:
>> I'll agree here! Don't take ginseng in large doses for extended periods of time. I tried it and, apart from my testicles feeling like they were going to explode, I felt lots of extra energy in my head, enough to cause a headache, but I didn't let it go that far.
>Speaking of which... A woman I know was taken to the hospital for irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. The first thing they asked her was if she had taken ginseng. However, all my books say that ginseng will REGULATE blood pressure. Could this be related to the headache question? Perhaps it raises it quickly when first taken, or if you take too much.

Ginseng is not the innocuous substance that many here in America would like it to be. Ginseng can, in fact, both raise low blood pressure and lower high blood pressure, but only in specific dosages and for people meeting certain diagnostic criteria (from a TCM standpoint).

>> Also, avoid caffeine and non-herbal teas while taking it. Tea has iron in it, which is supposed to be a "nasty" thing to take while on ginseng.
>I know about the caffeine, but I was never told this about iron. I take iron every day (Ladies of the world, remember this - you need to take at least 18 mg every day. :-) ) I don't notice anything, but maybe I don't know what I'm looking for. :-)

Most people won't notice anything with ginseng and iron. Still, it can be a problem for some. On the other hand, caffeine and ginseng definitely do not go well together, nor do hot and spicy foods, stimulant herbs like ephedra, or alcohol. The combination of these will frequently lead to the types of headaches described earlier by Steve, as can overuse of the substance. People with high blood pressure should *not* take ginseng without proper guidance from a health professional.

Norm.



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