Chapter 12. Medicinal Qualities.
In reply to E. T. Flanegan and others who wish to know how to use Ginseng as a medicine, I will suggest this way for a general home made use, says a writer in Special Crops: Take very dry root, break it up with a hammer and grind it thru a coffee mill three or four times till reduced to a fine powder. Then take three ounces of powder and one ounce of milk sugar. To the milk sugar add sixty drops of oil of wintergreen and mix all the powders by rubbing them together and bottle. Dose one teaspoonful, put into a small teacupful of boiling water. Let it stay a little short of boiling point ten minutes. Then cool and drink it all, hot as can be borne, before each meal. It may be filtered and the tea served with cream and sugar with the meal. Made as directed this is a high grade and a most pleasant aromatic tea and has a good effect on the stomach, brain and nervous system. To those who have chronic constipation, I would advise one fourth grain of aloin, taken every night, or just enough to control the constipation, while taking the Ginseng tea. If the evening dose of Ginseng be much larger it is a good safe hypnotic, producing good natural sleep.
The writer prefers the above treatment to all the whiskey and patent medicine made. To those who are damaged or made nervous by drinking coffee or tea, quit the coffee or tea and take Ginseng tea as above directed. It is most pleasant tasted and a good medicine for your stomach. I do not know just how the Chinese prepare it into medicine, but I suppose much of it is used in a tea form as well as a tincture. As it is so valuable a medicine their mode of administration has been kept a secret for thousands of years. There must be some medical value about it of great power or the Chinese could not pay the price for it. It has been thought heretofore that the Chinese were a superstitious people and used Ginseng thru ignorance, but as we get more light on the medical value of the plant the plainer it gets that it is us fellows—the Americans—that have been and are yet in the "shade" and in a dark shade, too. We think the time not far off when it will be recognized as a medical plant and a good one, too, and its great medical value be made known to the world.
For several years past I have been experimenting with Ginseng as a medical agent and of late I have prescribed, or rather added it, to the treatment of some cases of rheumatism. I remember one instance in particular of a middle-aged man who had gone the rounds of the neighborhood doctors and failed of relief, when he employed me. After treating him for several weeks and failing to entirely relieve him, more especially the distress in bowels and back, I concluded to add Ginseng to his treatment. After using the medicine he returned, saying the last bottle had served him so well that he wanted it filled with the same medicine as before. I attribute the curative properties of Ginseng in rheumatism to stimulating to healthy action of the gastric juices; causing a healthy flow of the digestive fluids of the stomach, thereby neutralizing the extra secretion of acid that is carried to the nervous membranes of the body and joints, causing the inflammatory condition incident to rheumatism.
Ginseng combined with the juices of a good ripe pineapple is par excellent as a treatment for indigestion. It stimulates the healthy secretion of pepsin, thereby insuring good digestion without incurring the habit of taking pepsin or after-dinner pills to relieve the fullness and distress so common to the American people. The above compound prepared with good wine in the proper way will relieve many aches and pains of a rebellious stomach; and if I should advise or prescribe a treatment for the old "sang digger" who is troubled with dyspepsia or foul stomach, I would tell him to take some of your own medicine and don't be selling all to the Chinamen.
I want to repeat here what I have often said to "sengers" of my acquaintance, especially those "get-rich-quick" fellows who have been dumping their half-grown and poorly cured Ginseng on the market, thereby killing the good-will of the celestial for a market and destroying the sale of those who cultivate clean and matured roots; they had much better give their roots time to mature in their gardens and if the market price is not what it ought to be to compensate for the labor, they had better hold over another season before selling. I have all the product of last season in Ginseng and Golden Seal in my possession, for the reason that the price did not suit me. Drug manufacturers ask $7.00 per pound for Fluid Extract Golden Seal wholesale. When they can make from one-half pound dried root one pound Fluid Extract Golden Seal costing them 75 cents, that's a pretty good profit for maceration and labeling.
Ginseng has been used to some extent as a domestic medicine in the United States for many years. As far as I can learn, the home use is along the line of tonic and stimulant to the digestive and the nervous system. Many people have great faith in the power of the Ginseng root to increase the general strength and appetite as well as to relieve eructations from the stomach. As long ago as Bigelow's time, some wonderful effects are recorded of the use of half a root in the increase of the general strength and the removal of fatigue. Only the other day a young farmer told me that Ginseng tea was a good thing to break up an acute cold and I think you will find it used for rheumatism and skin diseases. It undoubtedly has some effect on the circulation, perhaps thru its action on the nervous system and to this action is probably due its ascribed anti-spasmodic properties.
The use of Ginseng has largely increased within the last few years and several favorable reports have been published in the medical journals. One physician, whose name and medium of publication I cannot now recall, speaks highly of its anti-spasmodic action in relieving certain forms of hiccough. If this is true, it places it at once among the important and powerful anti-spasmodics and suggests its use in other spasmodic and reflex nervous diseases as whooping cough, asthma, etc.
I have practiced medicine for eight years. I sold my practice one year ago and since have devoted my entire attention to the cultivation of Ginseng and experimenting with Ginseng in diseases and am satisfied that it is all that the Chinese claim for it; and, if the people of the United States were educated as to its use, our supply would be consumed in our own country and it would be a hard blow to the medical profession.
It would make too long an article for me to enumerate the cases that I have cured; but, I think it will suffice to say that I have cured every case where I have used it with one exception and that was a case of consumption in its last stages; but the lady and her husband both told me that it was the only medicine that she took during her illness that did her any good. The good it did her was by loosening her cough; she could give one cough and expectorate from the lungs without any exertion. I believe it is the best medicine for consumption in its first stages and will probably cure.
I wish the readers of Special Crops to try it in their own families—no difference what the disease is. Make a tea of it. A good way is to grate it in a nutmeg grater. Grate what would make about 15 grains, or about one-fourth to one-half teaspoonful and add half a pint or less of boiling water. The dose to be taken at meal times and between meals. In a cold on the lungs it will cure in two or three days, if care is taken and the patient is not exposed.
My theory is that disease comes from indigestion directly or indirectly. Ginseng is the medicine that will regulate the digestion and cure the disease no difference by what name it is called; if the disease can be cured, Ginseng will cure it where no other drug will.
I will cite one case; a neighbor lady had been treated by two different physicians for a year for a chronic cough. I gave her some Ginseng and told her to make a tea of it and take it at meal times and between meals; in two weeks I saw her and she told me that she was cured and that she never took any medicine that did her so much good, saying that it acted as a mild cathartic and made her feel good. She keeps Ginseng in her house now all the time and takes a dose or two when she does not feel well.
I am satisfied that wonderful cures can be made with Ginseng and am making them myself, curing patients that doctors have given up; and if handled properly our supply will not equal the demand at home in course of five or six years, thus increasing the price.
At the last annual meeting of the Michigan Ginseng Association, Dr. H. S. McMaster of Cass Co. presented a paper on the uses of this plant, which appeared in the Michigan Farmer. He spoke in part as follows:
"Ginseng is a mild, non-poisonous plant, well adapted to domestic as well as professional uses. In this respect it may be classed with such herbs as boneset, oxbalm, rhubarb and dandelion. The medicinal qualities are known to be a mild tonic, stimulant, nervine and stomachic. It is especially a remedy for ills incident to old age.
"Two well-known preparations made—or said to be—from Ginseng root are on the market. One of these, called "Seng," has been for many years on druggists' shelves. It is sometimes used for stomach troubles and with good results. I think it is now listed by the leading drug houses.
"Another called 'Ginseng Tone' is a more recent preparation, and is highly spoken of as a remedy. But for home or domestic use we would suggest the following methods of preparing this drug:
"1st. The simplest preparation and one formerly used to some extent by the pioneers of our forest lands, is to dig, wash and eat the green root, or to pluck and chew the green leaves. Ginseng, like boneset, aconite and lobelia, has medicinal qualities in the leaf.
"To get the best effect, like any other medicine it should be taken regularly from three to six times a day and in medicinal quantities. In using the green root we would suggest as a dose a piece not larger than one to two inches of a lead pencil, and of green leaves one to three leaflets. These, however, would be pleasanter and better taken in infusion with a little milk and sweetened and used as a warm drink as other teas are.
"2nd. The next simplest form of use is the dried root carried in the pocket, and a portion as large as a kernel of corn, well chewed, may be taken every two or three hours. Good results come from this mode of using, and it is well known that the Chinese use much of the root in this way.
"3d. Make a tincture of the dried root, or leaves. The dried root should be grated fine, then the root, fiber or leaves, separately or together, may be put into a fruit jar and barely covered with equal parts of alcohol and water. If the Ginseng swells, add a little more alcohol and water to keep it covered. Screw top on to keep from evaporating. Macerate in this way 10 to 14 days, strain off and press all fluid out, and you have a tincture of Ginseng. The dose would be 10 to 15 drops for adults.
"Put an ounce of this tincture in a six-ounce vial, fill the vial with a simple elixir obtained at any drug store, and you have an elixir of Ginseng, a pleasant medicine to take. The dose is one teaspoonful three or four times a day.
"The tincture may be combined with the extracted juice of a ripe pineapple for digestion, or combined with other remedies for rheumatism or other maladies.
"4th. Lastly I will mention Ginseng tea, made from the dry leaves or blossom umbels. After the berries are gathered, select the brightest, cleanest leaves from mature plants. Dry them slowly about the kitchen stove in thick bunches, turning and mixing them until quite dry, then put away in paper sacks.
"Tea from these leaves is steeped as you would ordinary teas, and may be used with cream and sugar. It is excellent for nervous indigestion.
"These home preparations are efficacious in neuralgia, rheumatism, gout, irritation of bronchi or lungs from cold, gastro-enteric indigestion, weak heart, cerebro-spinal and other nervous affections, and is especially adapted to the treatment of young children as well as the aged. Ginseng is a hypnotic, producing sleep, an anodyne, stimulant, nerve tonic and slightly laxative."
Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants, 1936, was written by A. R. Harding.