When naturally treating shoulder, knee, or chronic pain few people consider the wonder herb, ginseng (Chinese Panax Ginseng), and its ability to help with inflammation. This prized herb with its nutritious roots, which can live up to 100 years, has been used for centuries in Oriental medicine to alleviate numerous conditions.
Based on two-thousand-year-old writings, the Chinese believed ginseng helped supplement the spleen, calm nervous irritation, aid the heart, nourish the body, eliminate evil Chi energy, sharpen and quiet the mind, and prolong life. Throughout history, ginseng was so prized that it yielded a higher value than gold and was considered a most beneficial tonic and cure-all. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), ginseng was known as the herb that could restore the dying to health and restore the dead to life.
Ginseng is an Ancient Remedy
According to Dr. Dharmananda, the use of ginseng in China, and throughout Asia, is based largely on the description in the ancient text, Shennong Bencao Jing (Classic Herbal of Shennong) written around 100 A.D. This text mentions ginseng, also known by its two other names, renxian and guigai, and it describes in detail its nature, its sweet and cold taste, and its healing effects, but it never outlines a description of how to take the herb.
Chinese Ginseng and Korean Ginseng
Oriental ginseng can be divided into Chinese ginseng and Korean ginseng. Chinese Panax ginseng is grown in the Chiang Pai mountains, in the northeastern area of China (Manchuria) and is usually available as a tea or tincture. It is often white in color because the roots are dried in the sun, breaking down enzymes and therefore decreasing its potency. Chinese ginseng has milder energy boosting effects, so it is thought to be better suited for young children, the elderly, and the very ill as cited in “Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica.”
Red Panax Ginseng is the Most Potent
Korean ginseng, or Red Panax ginseng, is considered the most potent and the most popular due to it being harvested after six years and undergoing steam harvesting before drying, thereby preserving its health benefiting ginsenosides. This variety contains vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, B-sisterol, panaxic acid, ginsenosides (0.7 -3%), and essential oils, which help in numerous areas including anemia, memory loss, depression, blood sugar and uric levels, promoting biosynthesis of RNA, cancer and influenza prevention, helping erectile dysfunction, enhancing sports performance, and aiding stress reduction by producing more endorphins in the brain.
Studies Show Ginseng Helps Chronic Inflammation and Pain
If ginseng is reported to help with such a broad spectrum of conditions, does ginseng also help with chronic inflammation and pain? Recent studies have confirmed the answer to be yes. Allan Lau and his team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong have identified seven ginseng constituents or ginsenosides, which showed immune-suppressive effects. A. Lau said, “The anti-inflammatory role of ginseng may be due to the combined effects of these ginsenosides, targeting different levels of immunological activity, and in doing so, contributing to the diverse actions of ginseng in humans”. A 2013 study conducted in Brazil has shown that Panax ginseng effectively promoted an improvement in pain in patients who suffer from fibromyalgia. This research has shown ginseng’s steroid-like phytochemicals (ginsenosides) being adaptogenic and anti-aging.
The University of Maryland Medical Center mentions that the gnarled ginseng root has been traditionally used to treat fever, headache, infertility, and indigestion as well as being considered an all-around stimulant. Ginseng has also been found to be helpful for treatment of postmenopausal symptoms and as a natural alternative to anabolic steroids for athletes and body builders.
Eastern vs Western Dosage
It is interesting to note that the usual recommended dosage of ginseng in Asia is around the range of 3-9 grams/day. By contrast, in the West, people are recommended to use far less, with amounts so low that they are deemed questionable in providing any of the desired ginseng health benefits. Despite continental dosing differences, healing benefits are still believed to be present, and it is estimated that around 6 million people regularly take ginseng in the U.S.
How to Prepare the Best Ginseng
The key in taking ginseng is to ensure taking an all-natural and high-quality ginseng. The Dr. Shen clinic in California states that dried ginseng root tea is best. Use 3-9 grams per person. Slowly boil the sliced herb for about an hour, and drink the tea on an empty stomach. The clinic goes on to state that, “Most Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners prefer whole herbs or simple water extractions over standardized extracts because extracts are often taken from herbs that have poor appearance, weak taste, and lower potency. Low-temperature water extracts, which have not been chemically manipulated in order to standardize ginsenocides, are more like the herb as it is found in nature.”
So the next time you reach for something to help alleviate your pain and chronic inflammation, try some Red Panax ginseng and make it part of your natural medicine cabinet. For a specific recommendation on ginseng, visit almaholistichealth.com and contact us for more information.
Interesting fact: The Chinese Emperors used wild Manchurian ginseng.
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- Subhuti Dharmananda, “The Nature of Ginseng: From Traditional Use to Modern Research,” Jou 
- Ibid.rnal of the American Botanical Council no.54 (September 2002). 
- Chinese Ginseng vs. Siberian Ginseng – livestron.com 
- Bioactivity-guided identification and cell signaling technology to delineate the immunomodulatory effects of Panax ginseng on human promonocytic U937 cells, Journal of Translational Medicine – BioMed Central 
- Effects of Panax ginseng extract in patients with fibromyalgia: a 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria – Science Direct 
- Asian Ginseng -University of Maryland Medical Center 
- Subhuti Dharmananda, “The Nature of Ginseng: From Traditional Use to Modern Research,” Journal of the American Botanical Council no.54 (September 2002). 
- The Whole Truth About Ginseng – Dr.Shen 
- Ibid.