Ginseng is available in many forms and its 5,000-year history has helped boost its sales in many health food stores.
The plant, which is promoted as a panacea, is sold as chewing gum, tea, powder, tablets, capsules, and a tonic drink among others. There are ginseng candies, cigarettes, shampoos, and even a whole ginseng root in an attractive glass container which would make a good conversation piece – provided you can afford its expensive price.
Such is the popularity of the “essence of man,” as the plant is called, that in Britain alone, sales of ginseng have reached three million pounds yearly, making it one of South Korea’s major exports.
Apparently, what people are buying is hope. Buyers of ginseng hope the plant will purify the blood, increase their resistance to disease, and improve their sex life.
One leaflet says ginseng can be used for “common ailments like tiredness, insomnia, headaches, cold or flu, aches and pains, and weakness.”
It adds that the plant can neutralize excess stomach acid in ulcer patients and is ideal for dieting. It also recommends ginseng for diabetes, hypertension, pimples, kidney and liver problems, anemia, asthma, night blindness, and cancer.
What makes ginseng special? One of its major selling points is that this small shrub takes six to seven years to grow in a special climate. During this time, the plant supposedly takes up so many minerals and trace elements from the soil which makes it effective for a variety of ailments, we are told.
Unfortunately, no evidence is offered to support this claim. But we are given a fancy name for ginseng’s magical properties. Promoters say it has an “adaptogenic effect.” meaning the body supposedly adapts and uses the plant for whatever purpose it needs. This explains why ginseng can supposedly treat many ills.
While all that sounds appealing don’t be misled for there is nothing scientific about it. “In spite of ginseng’s ancient reputation as a panacea, there are serious doubts about its alleged health benefits,” according to Kurt Butler and Dr. Lynne Rayner of the University of Hawaii in “The Best Medicine.”
The trouble with ginseng is that no one knows exactly what it is. There are 900 different varieties – the Panax, Acanthopanax, Aralia, Oplopanax, and Kalopanax to name a few – which all belong to the Araliaceae or ginseng family. Various species from China, Korea, Japan, and North America are wild and cultivated, sun-dried, bulk root, and come in many forms. For this reason, it is difficult to tell exactly what type of ginseng a product contains and how effective it is.
“Rival products available offer obvious contradictions to one another but there are also contradictions within the same product,” added Arnold Bender in “Health or Hoax?” The US Pharmaceutical Journal reports that seven out of 24 ginseng products in the market do not contain ginseng at all. The mislabeling, of products, the lack of standards in the manufacture of ginseng, and the different varieties make all this confusing.
If you’re serious about losing weight, don’t rely on ginseng. There are many effective products in the market today that can give you the body you want. One of them is Phenocal – a safe and natural weight loss supplement that will boost your metabolism, suppress your appetite, increase energy levels, and help you lose unwanted pounds. For more information, visit http://www.phenocal.com.
By: Janet Martin
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