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Home > Newsletters > November 2007 > Herbal Energy Boost: Ginseng and Cordyceps

Herbal Energy Boost: Ginseng and Cordyceps

By Dr. Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., Ph.D.

Who doesn't need an energy boost in this fast-paced world? As we speed along in our technological and intellectual pursuits, life demands that we rapidly adapt to many changes.

The balancing act between home, family, and work causes stress and strain that can usher in the aging process prematurely. Here are two tonic herbs that will nurture and regenerate you for the rest of your years.

Ginseng Restores Failing Energy

For 5,000 years, the roots of this slow-growing plant have been valued in traditional Chinese medicine. The term ginseng refers to several species of the genus Panax, a botanical name meaning "all-heal" in Greek.

The two Panax herbs commonly used are Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). These are not to be confused with Siberian "ginseng" (Eleutherococcus senticosus) which is not actually ginseng at all!

Panax ginseng is the most famous energy-boosting herb. Its popular medicinal uses include increasing physical and mental endurance, decreasing fatigue, and elevating energy.

Unlike coffee, which stimulates the central nervous system, ginseng boosts energy gently. Ginseng is commonly considered an adaptogen - a natural substance that improves the body's resistance to physical and environmental stress, thereby enhancing the immune system.

Some other uses include enhancing physical performance, improving coordination, increasing sexual potency, and reducing cholesterol. There is also strong evidence that ginseng can help the body fight off infection, protect liver and heart health, normalize cholesterol and blood sugar levels, regulate the function of hormones, and improve memory and cognitive functions. People taking ginseng often report overall improvement in well-being.

Available as a powder, capsule, tea, ginseng is generally considered safe, although there are some rare possible side effects, especially at higher doses, including a faster heart rate, nausea, headaches, trouble sleeping, and restlessness. Work with a licensed practitioner of Chinese medicine to customize the right dosage for you.

Cordyceps Cultivates Vitality

Cordyceps is a mushroom with energizing properties that has also been prized in the East for thousands of years. It has received a lot of attention recently since the news came out that record-breaking Chinese Olympic runners used it to greatly enhance their performance.

Cordyceps was in relatively short supply until modern advances in growing techniques made it more widely available to consumers. The same Vitality-boosting properties that give athletes the edge to achieve feats of strength and endurance can help you live longer: cordyceps helps increase cellular energy metabolism, boosts adrenal functions to adapt to stress, modulates immune function, increases capillary circulation, and improves oxygen utilization. Cordyceps is available as capsules or elixirs in health food stores, online and in Chinese medicine practitioner's office.

I hope this article helps discover the Vitality-enhancing benefits of ginseng and cordyceps! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

--Dr. Mao

This Month's Articles

November 2007
Volume 5, Number 11

Herbal Energy Boost: Ginseng and Cordyceps

Herbs "More Helpful" than Drugs for Menstrual Pain

Healthy Alternative to the Typical Thanksgiving Dinner

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor

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