Ginseng has been used in Chinese medicines for thousands of years. It came to Europe in the 9th century, but it was only in the 1950,s that Ginseng became popular.
Ginseng is a hardy perennial, growing from 28-31 inches tall with a forked root, upright stem that has fleshy scales at the base. The leaves form a branching pattern that spread like fingers from a hand. Greenish – yellow flowers are followed by bright red berries.
There a several species of Ginseng with similar medicinal properties. Ginseng is sometimes difficult to grow as it can be plagued with mould through all stages of growth. It can take up to a year to germinate. Plant in autumn in raised beds which are rich in humus. Keep in shaded areas all times.
The roots should not be harvested until plants are 6 years old. When harvesting, try not to break off any parts of the root. Dry in a cool dry place for one month before use.
There are many forms of Panax - the botanical Genus from which Ginseng is derived. Different forms are grown in North and South hemispheres.
There are wide ranging research studies into the various health and aphrodisiac claims for this herb, and because of its general allure and being in vogue, research is based upon mainly sexual and general therapeutic properties. The research is ongoing, and as of yet we are unable to accurately cite any conclusions for these research programmes.
As with all 'wonder-cure-alls' great care should be taken in use. Certainly not exceeding and recommended dose, and if anything erring on the side of caution. There are side effects - such as - if taken excessively, inability to sleep, nausea, headaches and diarrhoea
Ginseng is used to stimulate the nervous and immune system, increase general stamina and strength and also used to lower blood – sugars and cholesterol levels. The Root is normally available whole, or sometimes sliced - but normally dried. the leaves are also used and are available as dried leaves.
The dried herb is used for many healing purposes, including digestive problems, cancers, stress and memory and to overcome fatigue. During Menopause it helps to rejuvenate the system and balance hormones and help to control hot flashes.
The many uses of Ginseng Root are often related to some form of fertility problems, or in the male, other 'dysfunctional' problems to do with sexual arousal. We cannot vouch for its effectiveness!
Ginseng can be incorporated in cooking and teas, the root is the can be sliced and used in soups and even chewed without ant type of preparation. Ginseng can also be added to stir fry dishes. Use the powered Ginseng when baking or simmered in hot water when making rice.
Ginseng Coffee is not uncommon, and often used as a low-sugar energy producing drink.
In the main, Panax Ginseng is used more as a herbal medicine rather than a cooking additive, and it is not easy to find any substantial uses for culinary uses - other than its name!
Ginseng is a 'magical' name and is here to stay for a long time - unless ongoing research proves otherwise!