JAN 2016

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Page 75 of 107 74 DAYSPA | JANUARY 2016 HEALING NEWS YOURWELLNESSSPA FOR WHOM THE HERB WORKS The important caveat that exists with all herbal medi- cines is certainly true when it comes to ginseng: one size does not fi t all. This may explain why, although proponents of ginseng believe the root's fl esh can im- prove memory and thinking, lower blood sugar and even ward off cancer, Western study methods haven't provided defi nitive proof of these effects. Herbal medi- cine is based on treating the individual and the root cause of illness or imbalance. The bottom line is that ginseng might be just what the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor ordered for one person, have no effect on another and even be harmful to another still. It cannot be overstressed that herbal medicine should only be used with the guid- ance of a certifi ed herbalist, TCM doctor or other li- censed natural medicine practitioner. Another consideration is that herbs are rarely recommended for use singly, because they tend to be more helpful and safer when blended with other herbs or non-herbal ingredients. Customized formulations are at the heart of this form of medicine, and some herbs do tend to work well in tandem. Rappoport explains it well: "Tea, for example, is a community of herbs, and each one has a job to do. An herb working alone can actually drain the body." Meanwhile, Western scientists continue to seek standardized results from the use of ginseng. Research- ers are currently looking at the herb's potential health benefi ts beyond the ones previously mentioned— lowering blood sugar, increasing physical endurance, improving mental function, enhancing sexual perfor- mance and reducing the risk of cancer—and to ad- ditional effects such as boosting the immune system, ridding the body of free radicals that can contribute to heart disease and relieving menopausal symptoms. It will be decades before conclusive fi ndings can be confi rmed. But this mystical plant with a long past continues to hold promise for better, naturally ob- tained health in the future. Andrea Renskoff is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contraindications and restrictions exist with the use of any herb. Consult a qualifi ed herbalist or natural medicine professional regarding proper use. Readers' Choice Award 2012

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