Monday, May 11, 2009

Excellent Article on Ginseng

Three triumphant ginseng roots stand on the corpses of their defeated enemies.

"Million Dollar Man Root" was published last year in the Washington City Paper, D.C.'s free weekly. The story centers around Harding's Ginseng Farm in Rockville, Maryland, which raises wild-simulated American ginseng (西洋参 Xi Yang Shen, also known as 花期参 Hua Qi Shen). There are many hilarious and informative bits, and even if you're an acupuncturist and/or herbalist you'll probably learn something new.

Chi, in traditional Asian medicine, is the energy that sustains life. Of course, one of the most common motivations for taking ginseng is to increase the type of energy that creates life. Over dinner one night I asked my girlfriend to think back to when we first started dating. I began taking ginseng about a month into our relationship. Does she remember any change in the firmness of my erections around then?

“I refuse to answer that question,” she says.

“So what you’re saying is that my erections were incredibly firm and robust right from Day 1?”

She stares at me blankly for a moment, shakes her head, and then goes back to her meal.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” I say.

The author, Franklin Schneider, doesn't make any distinction between American ginseng (panax quinquefolis) and Asian ginseng (panax ginseng), and as far as I can tell neither does Mr. Harding's website.

TCM's materia medica describes American ginseng as cool in nature and milder than Asian ginseng, which is warm and stronger for tonifying qi. Mr. Harding says "Believe me, it’ll make you into a real big man. A bigger man!" but is ginseng a guaranteed sexual tonic? Chinese medicine professionals know the answer is no, despite ginseng's miraculous properties.

If you're generally in good health, just a little run down with low energy, a low dose of ginseng may be a great way to stimulate your qi. But low sexual desire and low sexual ability has many different etiologies, and qi deficiency is just one. In some cases, especially Damp Heat accumulation or Liver Qi stagnation, ginseng may make your situation worse. For best results, do your own research, and then see a Chinese medicine professional, designated by the L.Ac after their name, which stands for Licensed Acupuncturist. All L.Acs in the state of California and most L.Acs in other states have extensive herbology training and can determine what kind of ginseng, if any, is best for you.

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