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Ginseng is a perennial plant with a fleshy root, which is used for medicinal purposes. It is believed to have originated in the mountains of Manchuria in China, and has been in use for some 5000 years. It was called 'Ren Shen' by the ancient Chinese people. 'Ren Shen' means 'Man Root', and refers to the human-like shape of the Ginseng root. The Chinese had tremendous faith in ginseng, and considered it a sort of rejuvenating, cure-all herb for a variety of ailments.

You can make herbal tea from the fleshy root of the ginseng plant. This tea is said to have many healing and energy-giving properties. You can use fresh or dried roots for preparing the tea. These days, ginseng tea is a popular herbal drink all over the world, and is used by people for its rejuvenating properties.

Health Benefits

Although, proponents of alternative medicine claim that ginseng can cure a lot of illnesses, till date, there is no substantial evidence to prove the effectiveness of this herb. Even so, a great many people swear by the ginseng tea, and consume it on a regular basis. As per the exponents of this herb, there are numerous benefits of this tea, which are discussed below:
  • Ginseng may help stimulate the production of antibody-like protein, which helps in fighting colds.
  • It may also aid in regulating blood sugar levels in diabetics.
  • The ginseng root contains ginsenosides, a compound that stimulates the release of ACTH, that increases alertness and concentration.
  • It is also believed to improve the quality of sleep as well as boost the overall mood.
  • Regular consumption of this herbal tea is seen to help in fighting fatigue and lack of energy. Ginseng has the potential to increase the energy levels in cancer patients.
  • Ginseng tea is believed to be a natural appetite suppressant. Therefore, it aids in weight loss and weight management.
  • Regular consumption of this herbal tea aids in digestion, and it also reduces mental stress and anxiety.
  • It is also believed to boost the immune system, improve stamina, and work as an aphrodisiac.
  • Some studies have also indicated that red ginseng can help men suffering from erectile dysfunction. However, more research and clinical trials are required in this field.
  • Benefits of ginseng tea include its power to alleviate discomfort associated with menstruation.
  • It is also believed to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol.
Types of Ginseng

There are two main species of ginseng, and they are Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) that is found in China, Japan, and Korea, and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) that grows mainly in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, Oklahoma, British Columbia, and Ontario. There is a third variety called red ginseng or Korean ginseng, which is nothing more than processed Asian ginseng. There is another variety called Siberian ginseng, which is not a true ginseng, but another plant (Eleutherococcus senticosus) with almost similar medicinal properties. It contains chemical compounds called eleutherosides, instead of ginsenosides.

You can buy ginseng roots as whole or in the powder form. You may also get sliced and dried ginseng roots or even ginseng tea bags. Sometimes, the leaves of ginseng plant are also used, however, they are not considered as effective as the root. Cultivated root is available as red and white Ginseng. In both cases, ginseng plants are grown for about 6 years before their roots are harvested. The difference lies in the way the roots are processed for use. To make white ginseng, the root is peeled and sun-dried. The dried root then, takes the yellowish-white color. To make red ginseng, the unpeeled root undergoes the steaming and drying process. The reddish-brown color of the root is obtained during the steaming process.

Side Effects

As there is no solid scientific support to back the said benefits of the herb, it is always better to consult your health care professional before using it. The herb is said to cause no side effects, if taken in prescribed doses. However, side effects may occur, if it is taken in excess. Interactions with certain drugs, like, antidepressants, blood-thinning medications, diuretics, and drugs for maintaining blood pressure and blood sugar levels, are possible. The herb should be utilized only under the strict supervision of a qualified herbal practitioner. Pregnant and lactating women, or those with endometriosis and uterine fibroids must also refrain from taking ginseng.

Ginseng tea is soothing and relaxing, and its regular intake can aid sleeping disorders. However, it is important not to have it in excess, as it might have negative effects on your health.