JAN 2016

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YOURWELLNESSSPA 70 DAYSPA | JANUARY 2016 HERBAL HEALTH © GETTY IMAGES Warming Up to Ginseng This complex herb packs a punch of health benefi ts, but users should proceed with caution. By Andrea Renskoff American, Chinese, Korean, Tibetan, Siberian, Red, White, Eleuthero… the classifi cations of ginseng are mind-boggling. With 11 varieties grown mainly in Asia and North America, it can be diffi cult to sort out which types can deliver actual health benefi ts. In their purest forms, each has unique constituents of differing types and strengths. Moreover, some of the labels overlap and some become merely marketing terms. And then there are the forms: Dried roots, steamed roots, live plants, seeds, teas, extracts, powders and pills are just some of the available products that claim to bestow therapeutic effects. The opportunity to buy very expensive yet totally ineffective merchandise abounds. So even though ginseng makes its way into many herbal supplements, teas, energy tonics and even skin-, hair- and body-care products, consumers should be cautious regarding this potent miracle of nature— and wellness professionals even more so. PERENNIAL POWER Asian ginseng has been used medicinally for more than 5,000 years. In Chinese, it's called ren shen which, loosely translated, means "man root", an apt descrip- tion of the gnarly perennial that forks into what could be described as arms and legs. Its Greek botanical genus name, Panax, means "all heal" and is derived from the same root word as "panacea". These translations offer a clue as to how highly regarded and relied upon ginseng has been in ancient medicine. Panax ginseng, also referred to as Chinese or Kore- an ginseng, gained its popularity over the generations as a booster for general health and vigor. It's thought to amp up mental clarity and concentration, and may improve cognitive function and increase physical en- ergy. Ginseng is considered an adaptogen, a sub- stance that works with the body to combat mental and physical stress. This adaptive property can be traced to

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