The ginsengs.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: ginseng
From: (Paul Iannone)
Date: Sat, 13 May 95 16:54:55 PST

Tom Wallace <> wrote:
: (Rtla007) wrote:
: > I've read that there are some significant differences between Siberian, Chinese and American forms of Ginseng. Anyone have any insights on this?
: Use American Ginseng in the warmer summer months, and Chinese (or Korean or whatever in the winter, cooler months.
: Siberian Ginseng is a nice tonic, but isn't really Ginseng at all. None of the research on regular Ginseng applies to Siberian Ginseng.

It is true that Eleuthero ginseng ('Siberian') is not from the same genus as Panax Ginseng, but in fact MOST of the research on 'regular' ginseng applies to Eleuthero. They are both proven 'adaptogens' (help the body resist stress, especially temperature stress). While I consider Panax ginseng one of the world's great plants (and Eleuthero a less important plant), it doesn't cover the bases to claim that they aren't nearly equivalent for some uses. In the same way, the herbal most commonly substituted for ginseng in traditional formulas, Dang Shen (Codonopsis), does in fact mimic ginseng's digestion boosting effect (provided the amount is increased about 4-fold). But Codonopsis does NOT duplicate ginseng's property of Nourishing Source Qi, the energy that men store below their navels and women store in their wombs. When that Qi is full, illness is highly improbable.

--Paul ||

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: ginseng
From: (Paul Maser)
Date: Sat, 13 May 1995 06:16:00 -0800

>I've read that there are some significant differences between Siberian, Chinese and American forms of Ginseng. Anyone have any insights on this?

I'll post an interesting response I saved:

BBS: InterComm
Date: 01-09-94 (18:27) Number: 4281
Subj: RE: GINSENG HELP. Conf: (1202) Herbs-n-Su

In my practice I am quite fond of the ginsengs. The aralia family contains a number of plants which have similar constituents and similar functions. These include Panax ginseng (Asian gensing), Panax quinquefolium, Aralia racemosa & californica (spikenard, Calif. spikenard), Oplopanax horridum aka Echinopanax horridum (known to northwesterners as devil's club), Aralia spinosa (known to easterners as devils walking stick), and Eleutherococcus senticosus aka Acanthopanax (known in the herb trade as 'siberian ginseng').

These plants all share a common group of glycosides generally termed araliosides, or panaxosides. These constituents when ingested have a stress modifying effect. They appear to work on the limbic system, which is the emotional center of the brain, at the center of which is the hypothalmus gland. The hypothalmus rightly deserves to be called the 'master gland' since it tells many other glands, including the pituitary, what to do. The hypothalmus recieves information from all over the body, it even tastes the blood. Based on it's perception of the state of the body, the hypothalmus orders changes to be made. This is similar to a chef tasting and correcting his sauces.

Aralia plants have a balancing effect on the hypothalmus. The tend to reduce it's over reactions to stress. For example, the aralias help get shorter more efficient surges of cortisol, a glucosteroid hormone involved in stress response. The overall effect is to be balancing, stabilizing, enhancing, or to use a popular but vague term, adaptogenic.

I don't mean to suggest that all aralia family plants are used interchangably. Each has it's own characteristics. The cured red asian ginsengs I tend to avoid. They are very warm, even strident in their energy. Good for very mopey, cold, depressed people perhaps, but not very suitable as a regular tonic herb. The white american ginseng is an excellent choice as a general tonic. It enhances my experience of life. With good american ginseng I find food tastes better, I'm more alert and vital during the day, and sleep better at night, my sensations are clearer and more defined. It too is a bit stimulant and may upset the balance of older folks who have rigid daily rituals and habits which they enjoy. These folks might be shaken up to much by american ginseng, as might individuals persuing an acetic spiritual path. These people may do better on siberian ginseng which has a more neutral energy while being high in the stress modifying araliosides. The spikenards are generally too acrid and rasty for uses as hypothalamics (unless you happen upon the ripe berries in the the fall) they are used more for the type of moist coughs and respiratory ailments that those who live in cold, damp climates are especially prone to. Spikenard is a warm, acrid, and resinous expectorant of great value. Last but not least is Oplopanax horridum or 'devil's club' which grows in the north west. The root of this plant is sweet, a bit acrid, and has a complex oomph to it. Fellow herbalists are having success with it as a remedy for the hyperglycemia associated with adult onset insulin resistent diabetes. Michael Moore in his excellent new book "Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West" (1993, Red Crane Press, Santa Fe) says that it works best for stocky mezomorphs with elevated blood fats, and perhaps hypertension. It seems to decrease lust for sugar as well as bringing down elevated serum glucose levels.

So much more could be said about this wonderful family of medicinal plants. Many uses exist which I have not elaborated. Nor did I mention prefered forms for use. But I hope I have contributed to an underderstanding of these important herbs.