A Song for Ginsing

By on 08/27/2014

I have a distinct memory of my childhood. There was this local healthy smoothie shop near the house that was cool before its time. Before Jamba Juice and green smoothie bars popped up on every corner, this place sold healthy drinks, carrot and zucchini breads, homemade granola and other hippy foods. It was so hipster and cool that I cant even remember its name. It was also owned by hippies which means that after a few years, it was no longer in business.

One thing they sold though, was a box of ginseng vials. And, as a side note, can I just say that while this memory is a good 20+ years old and very faint and dusty in my head, thanks to the miracle of Google I was able to find that exact box from my dusty memory after about 30 seconds of searching! Here it is, exactly as I remember it:


The reason this stands out so clear in my memories is because as a young child I was told “no, you can’t have this. This is for the adults.” I remember thinking how foreign and magical it looked. And vials! How cool! They said it gave them energy and better health. And it came from CHINA! This was a carrot that would not be dangled in front of me for long. The box always sat on top of our fridge for routine access by the adults only, as If this magical spot on top of a tall appliance was somehow unreachable by those not carrying a valid photo ID.

One day I finally decided this was silly. 11 year olds get tired too! I need better health and immunity and vials full of promise too! So when no one was in the kitchen, I climbed up onto the counter, grabbed the box from atop the fridge, and stole a vial. Then, with my feet firmly planted on the kitchen floor, bracing myself for the instant transformation that was sure to occur, I opened the vial and poured the contents into my mouth.

And then gagged, wretched, screamed and ran to the sink to spit this obvious poison out.

You know, I’ve not consumed a single vial of ginseng since that day over 20 years ago, and still, I remember that taste clearly.


I was baffled. Why the heck would anyone voluntarily consume this disgusting liquid.. and daily! To do that to your mouth daily!

As an adult, I get it now. The things we will put ourselves through to gain health, energy, clear skin, weight loss, memory, etc.. You name it, we will try it!

One thing that gets me about ginseng is that it really is an ancient remedy, not just marketed as such. It seems as though it has been around forever, and has never really lost its reputation. While today health food/supplement trends pop up almost daily (acai berries! Jicama! Chia!), ginseng has always just sort of been there.

So that got me thinking. If it’s been around for as long as it has, is that any kind of indicator that it works? Perhaps the only reason its not still in every product is simply due to marketing, market control, cost, and trends. That in fact, it is actually a really good supplement, but it doesn’t “appeal to the market” as some sort of new, cutting edge break through, and so it remains in the margins, its potential largely untapped by those very people seeking more energy, immunity, focus and general health.

Well, here’s the truth. Ginseng has been studied over and over again, and it’s claims can actually be proven! Now the studies argue over exactly how effective it is, and what type is best, as science often does.

But the point here is that ginseng works!

There are two main types of ginseng: Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). Both types have been studied and proven as a beneficial supplement. What benefits?

Well, here ya go:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Controls weight
  • Increase concentration and learning
  • Boost mood
  • Increase energy

Additionally, many claim it can also treat heart disease, erectile dysfunction, some cancer, hepatitis C, menopause and high blood pressure, but scientific data is still inconclusive for these.

Ginsing contains many active substances and can be added to other products as well, but the substance thought to be most important is called ginsenoside or panaxoside. (Ginsenosides was a term coined by Asian researchers, and panaxosides was chosen by early Russian researchers.)
Before you run out and buy a lifetime supply, please first research any brand you are considering. As with most supplements, there is a large variance in quality. Some brands include little to no active ginseng ingredients, meaning you are paying good money for a whole lotta nothing.

Dr. Oz did a study and found that 45% of ginseng tested in their lab failed for either not containing the required amount of ginseng compounds or for being contaminated with lead.

So what should you look for?

American or Asian (often sold as “Korean”) ginseng, as these have the most clinical evidence supporting their effectiveness. A daily dose typically provides at least 200 mg of an extract or 1000 to 2000 mg (1 to 2 grams) of a dried plant powder.

Additionally, real ginseng should contain several milligrams of natural ginsenoside compounds, but supplements often fall short. Be sure the product clearly discloses its contents.

Finally, research the brand. Look for customer reviews, lab studies, and any other information that can show you the quality of the supplement you are considering.








About modernhealthproject

Hi there! This is my little blog project where I am trying to learn more about health, wellness and living a balanced life, while also sharing a bit of my silly side as well. By "silly" I mean sarcastic. And by "a bit" I mean way too much. Sorry about that.♥ - Anna

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