Asian Ginseng is one of the most economically, historically, and medicinally important plants. It has been used for thousands of years and appears in the first known Chinese Materia Medica (thought to have been written during the Han Dynasty circa 220 BCE. Ginseng root is native to the northern mountainous regions of Korea, China, and parts of the Russian Federation. Panax ginseng is harvested after 4-6 years of cultivation, and it is classified into three types depending on how it is processed: (a) fresh ginseng (less than 4 yr old; can be consumed in it's fresh state); (b) white ginseng (4-6 yr old; dried after peeling); and (c) red ginseng (harvested when 6 yr old, and then steamed and dried). Panax is derived from the latin "Pan" or All, and "Akos" or Cure. The sound-Gin stands for the word Man in Chinese, and Seng for the term essence or that which underlies all outward appearances. Ginseng roots physically resemble the human body. This herb is a perfect example of the function of a tonic herb, an herb that is used for nutritive, restorative, long-term purposes. Herbalists classify it as an adaptogen. An adaptogen must have a normalizing effect, enhance homeostasis and counteract negative effects brought about by stressors. It must also have a wide range of safety with a broad range of therapeutic effects without causing any major side effects. This herb has been used in convalescence, to support normal immune function, to revitalize energy levels. The German Commission E Monograph for Panax ginseng reads; “As tonic for invigoration and fortification in times of fatigue and debility, for declining capacity for work and concentration, also during convalescence.” It is official in the Pharmacopeia of Austria, China, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and Russia.
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