March 2010 Ageless herbal newsletter
This strange looking herb must be one of the best known Asian herbs in the West – and with good reason. Although most people perceive it to only help with your intimate life – the real effect of ginseng is way more than that.
Although Western allopathic (normal) medical practitioners may still be skeptical about Asia’s most used herb, it is estimated that the United States of America’s trade in ginseng surpasses $ 400 million per year.
That being what it may, scientific studies over the last fifty years have proven that ginseng can hold many health benefits. The major scientist that started studies on ginseng was Dr. Israel I. Beckman – and he concurred in his summation that ginseng is a general tonic.
Korean ginseng is also known as Panax ginseng, Ren Shen or Chinese ginseng, American ginseng as Panax quinquefolius and Siberian ginseng as Eleutherococcus senticosus – although the Siberian ginseng is not seen as a “true” ginseng. Some people have the notion that some ginsengs are more active than others, but in essence they are all nearly the same – although the best one to use is considered to be Panax ginseng.
Ginseng has been used for the past thousands of years in traditional Asian medicine, and is prescribed for a variety of problems ranging from stress, failing memory, obesity, flagging vitality, exhaustion, improving the immune system, fatigue, improving fertility and virility as well as a general strengthening tonic for the body.
The therapeutic effect of ginseng was officially documented in the oldest materia medica – the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, some 2,000 years ago, while the first great Chinese herbal, written 3,000 BC – the Pen Tsao Ching – also featured ginseng very prominently.
It was the German scientist C. A. Meyer who named the herb in 1842, and hinted at its wide spectrum of influence by calling it “panax” – the Greek word for cure-all – “panacea”.
The ginseng plant takes four years to start flowering but is only really ready for use after six years. 60 to 80 year old roots are highly prized but due to the astronomical cost of such roots, it is never used in commercially available products.
References are made to “white” ginseng – which really refers to unprocessed ginseng root, which is sometimes bleached and then dried, while “red” ginseng is also prepared from “white” ginseng but is subjected to processing – such as steaming the fresh root before drying.
In Chinese medicine the “white” ginseng is mostly used for younger people and on very frail or weak people, while the “red” ginseng is preferred by people over forty – since it is believed that the “red” ginseng is “hotter” and is more stimulating, and more in line for people who’s hormonal systems are slowing down and may need “fire” to restore the balance in the body.
In Asian medicine ginseng is used as a general tonic to revitalize and restock the vital energy known as “Qi” – but when talking about revitalizing or boosting the body it is not in the same sense as taking caffeine or amphetamine-like substances – but rather works on all body systems to bring them back into harmony.
The Commission E (the German counterpart of the USA FDA) approved ginseng as a general tonic and to assist in times of debility, fatigue and convalescence, whilst helping to improve memory and the capacity for working.
A study conducted at the University of Munich showed that ginseng had a very positive effect on the performance of athletes, had an increase of oxygen absorption and they recovered faster after training and had less serum lactate – which is an indicator of muscle fatigue.
Clinical trials also showed that it possesses hormone-like and cholesterol-lowering effects, while improving circulation and assisting with depression. Furthermore it was shown to enhance energy metabolism and to fight free radicals.
In Asian medicine ginseng is seen to be one of the major herbs in promoting longevity and helping to bring a person’s intimate life back into prime condition.
The actual ingredients in ginseng that make all this magic happen are the triterpene saponins – known as ginsenosides – contained in the root. More than 30 different ginsenosides have been identified and the two main ginsenosides – Rb1 and Rg1 are known to respectively suppress or stimulate the central nervous system – contributing to the adaptogenic ability of this herb. Apart from this it also contains glycosides of oleanolic acid, 20-S-protopanaxdiol, ginseng polysaccharides (panaxans), pectin, free sugar, vitamins B1, B2, B12, nicotinic acid, pantothenic acid, biotin, choline, fats, minerals and polyacetylenes.
Although not clinically proven it is said to help reduce anxiety, and nervous unrest during morphine treatment, and it may help with the withdrawal symptoms from methamphetamines and cocaine.
A Korean study from 1987 to 1991, using 4,587 men and women, 39 years and older reported a 60 percent lower incidence of death due to cancer – primarily stomach and lung cancer.
A Chinese study found that when ginseng is taken during radiation for cancer or chemotherapy, the life expectancy of the patient was extended by three to seventeen years.
In Korea it was found that ginseng had the ability to help with lung cancer that was resistant to the drug cisplatin (Platinol).
It has also been found that when ginseng is taken together with echinacea it is most helpful for people struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as well as with Lyme disease, as it increases the activity of the natural killer cells (NK).
Since ginseng supports the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis it is of value to fight the effects of fatigue and the effect of stress, while supporting the psychological health of people with CFS and it increases the level of concentration.
Abstract thinking is also improved when ginseng is taken on a regular daily basis as well as memory, concentration, attention and the general ability to cope.
Ginseng is of value to partygoers as well, as it helps to reduce a hangover by assisting to break down the alcohol in the body, and also has value to treat alcohol-induced damage to brain cells.
Since ginseng stimulates the hypothalamus in the production of hormones it is of great value in the health and growth of the gonads. In an Italian study, using sixty men, it showed that ginseng increased testosterone levels naturally.
Women also found that ginseng helps menopausal-related problems and helps to keep hot flashes in check.
Not being an essential nutrient, no RDA exists on this ingredient, but quantities of around 200 mg in extract form is mostly used in a multi-supplement, while pure ginseng supplements normally contain up to 1,000 mg per capsule / dose.
The USA FDA considers ginseng as “generally safe for adults who are not pregnant or lactating or have any condition that is contraindicated” – but to fall into this category it must be taken at normal dosage, as very high therapeutic dosage could have side effects.
Excessive use of ginseng can have side effects, which can include nausea, nervousness, insomnia, diarrhea and headaches. The study that reported these side effects was severely flawed and does not comply with proper clinical studies – as no control group was used, and psychiatric patients were given extreme high dosages of ginseng – although it is not clear if it was proper ginseng given to these patients. Tender breasts and asthma attacks have also been reported.
The use of ginseng is not indicated for use by young children, people suffering from severe depression, high blood pressure, taking blood thinning medication, anxiety or any acute inflammatory disease. If diabetic, check with your health practitioner before taking it, as it may lower your blood sugar levels.
When taking ginseng it may be a good idea to check your intake of caffeine as well as any alcoholic beverages.
Although the Commission E does not restrict its use in pregnancy, the World Health Organization states that the safety of ginseng in pregnancy is not established while the British Herbal Compendium list it as contraindicated during pregnancy. So rather err on the side of safety and do not take ginseng when pregnant or breastfeeding.
People with high blood pressure should be careful in taking ginseng. Ginseng is generally contraindicated for hypertension.
But the internal intake of ginseng is not the full extent of this herb’s efficacy. It is often used in skincare products for its rejuvenating properties and improvement of circulation and the toning the skin.
Apart from that it also assists in protein synthesis (manufacture) while inhibiting the enzymatic breakdown of protein in the fibroblast of the skin. The antioxidant effect of the herb also helps to reduce free radicals, which if left unchecked, can lead to faster aging.
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- Healing cream
- To assist in wound healing while soothing skin complaints – such as eczema and psoriasis, acne and piles and moisturizing and protecting the skin. This product has shown its effectiveness over a wide range of problems and judging from sales over more than a decade – it is the trusted healing cream to help with all mishaps, allergic reactions, irritated, burning, itchy and uncomfortable skin conditions.
- Face wash
- This face wash will properly clean your face and remove all impurities and environmental pollutants, without drying the skin. It contains eight herbal extracts to help promote a clear, vital and healthy complexion and a younger looking skin.
- Moisturizing day cream
- This day cream is formulated to help fight the signs of aging on various fronts. It helps to reduce free radical damage which, if left unchecked, leads to premature aging. The herbal extracts help to promote cell rejuvenation and regeneration and provide moisture and hydration to the skin.
- Nourishing night cream
- This nourishing night cream penetrates the skin extremely well and does not make the skin feel oily. It contains a host of herbal extracts to help in the fight against premature aging and has added vitamin E as well. Apart from the moisturizing effect and the anti-aging properties it also softens and smoothes the skin.
- Eye gel
- An effective refreshing eye gel to help reduce puffiness and dark rings around the eyes, while fighting wrinkles and lines. This is a very clever combination of herbal extracts and the base formula has its roots in a clinically proven formula.
- Mud face mask
- With this skin treatment product we combined a special selection of herbs in a base of thermal mud with oligoelements. This recommended weekly treatment will boost circulation to the skin, help to fight wrinkles and lines, improve firmness while at the same time improving suppleness and elasticity of the skin.
- Shampoo with rosemary extract + 7 other herbals
- Our shampoo is in a class of its own – and granted – it is far more expensive than cheap supermarket shampoos, but no other shampoo has the active ingredients we have in our shampoo. The rosemary will boost the health of the hair and scalp, while the other seven herbal extracts will help strengthen the hair and make it shine, increase the volume and make it manageable.
- Rosemary hair treatment conditioner
- We have found that this hair conditioner should really be used as a conditioning treatment. This then removes the need to condition the hair every time you wash – and can be used once a month. It is a superb hair tonic and helps in the control of sebum secretion of the scalp. Although not formulated for dandruff – the ingredients will assist with this as well, while supporting the health of the scalp.
- Hand and body lotion
- When formulating this hand and body lotion we created a rich nourishing, protecting and reviving lotion, which will not leave the skin oily or tacky, but will create a well moisturized, hydrated and supple skin. After applying this lotion it will quickly be absorbed by the skin, leaving it silky soft, smooth and well moisturized.
- Stretch mark gel
- Although nothing can remove already formed stretch marks (only surgery can do that) – thousands of satisfied clients confirm that this gel improves the appearance of old stretch marks. The gel will help in PREVENTING stretch marks (a 92% success rate) and is used with great success by expectant mothers and body builders who may form marks when bulking-up. The formula of this gel is based on clinical studies done in France, to which we added other herbal extracts.
- Cellulite gel
- Fighting cellulite is easy with this herbal cellulite gel. It contains a patented extract of Bayberry (Myriceline) and nine other plant extracts and essential oils. The gel will help to get rid of cellulite (which has been clinically proven) and will also help to prevent cellulite from forming. So now it is easy to get your soft body contours back again.
- Apple cider vinegar (liquid) with Centella asiatica
- The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are combined with the therapeutic properties of Centella asiatica. This old folk remedy is still used with great effect by thousands of people daily.
- Digest capsules
- If your digestive system is under-par and you struggle with constipation or you simply need to boost the health of your digestive system then this capsule is for you. Fenugreek is a general digestive tonic and psyllium is a magical bulking agent that will help proper bowel movements, without using a laxative.
- Detox capsules
- Our modern day lifestyle exposes us to many unwanted additive and our diet also places stress on the body. To help the body get rid of toxins and waste materials naturally we combined fennel, basil, celery and parsley to help the body remove these toxins. It peps-up your metabolism and helps the bladder, kidneys and liver to do their work more effectively.
- Urinary and bladder health capsules
- Using an all natural approach, our capsules will help the discomfort and burning urine sensation of urinary tract infection and help clear up foul smelling urine. We combined cranberry, dandelion, uva ursi and vitamin C in a single capsule to effectively fight bladder infections and to stop the burning sensation when urinating.
- Tri- Mushroom blend capsules
- If you need an immune system boost then have a look at our combination of maitake, reishi and shiitake mushrooms. These mushrooms have showed to be a great help in boosting the immune system – and form a good nutritional supplement support for HIV/Aids patients and people receiving chemotherapy. Any person with even a slightly compromised immune system may benefit from this supplement.
- Olive leaf extract capsules
- This natural detoxifier helps with a variety of ailments and people with chronic fatigue syndrome, infections, glandular fever (Epstein Barr), and even candida and herpes have found it of value. Olive leaf extract helps to fight bacteria, viruses, retroviruses, and protozoa and yeast strains. Apart from fighting all of these problems it also helps to improve kidney function and fights free radicals.
- Sexual supplement (previously known as Vuka Nkuzi)
- Men normally don’t admit when they have a declining libido although it is a most common problem. We combine in this supplement seven different natural ingredients to boost sexual health – without any side effects often experienced with such medication. After more than a decade, and thousands of regular Vuka Nkuzi clients we still offer this well priced supplement to boost the libido.
- Jojoba oil
- This liquid golden ester not only moisturizes and penetrates the skin but also helps to fight wrinkles and lines while promoting a clear and unblemished skin. Jojoba does not clog the pores but helps to restore skin elasticity and smoothness. It will leave the skin supple and velvety soft without any oiliness and can be used neat on the skin.
- Almond oil
- This light and deeply moisturizing oil has a softening effect on the skin and can be used on the face and body. Almond oil has excellent emollient properties and helps to balance water and moisture loss in the skin. It can be used neat on the skin and also makes an excellent massage base.