How to Make the Best Use of Ginseng to Improve Your Energy

July 15, 2012 Trisha Han Oriental Herbal MedicineSelf-Help TopicsWellness & Prevention

Typically, when a person would like to restore energy and feel revitalized, ginseng is the first choice of many. In fact, a popular method in consuming ginseng is to soak two sun-dried roots in liquor for about two months, so that all of the medicinal properties of the root will be transfer into the alcohol, and then drink the alcoholic beverage.  Ginseng is a surprisingly hardy root–most plants, when soaked in alcohol, would die, but ginseng will thrive and even sprout new shoots in the liquid.

Ginseng wine is most suitable for those who have weak Qi.  These people tend to lack energy, have a pale, drained complexion, get out of breath, and sweat easily during the daytime. If weak Qi is accompanied by Yin deficiency, you can also add 50 grams of Mai Dong root to the wine, which will alter and lessen ginseng’s natural Yang properties.

There’s one problem when it comes to using ginseng for restoring energy–it can cause excess internal heat.  For example, consuming too much ginseng will make you more prone to nosebleeds and headaches.

One way to prevent excess heat but still consume ginseng frequently is by using a formula known as Sheng Mai San, which consists of three herbs: ginseng, mai dong, and wu wei zi.  Sheng Mai Yin is a widely used formula, and can be found at many herbal stores today, usually in a liquid form. It is a better alternative to consuming ginseng alone, because it doesn’t cause excess heat and inflammation like ginseng does. Sheng Mai Yin can even stabilize heart conditions in emergency situations.

A Chinese Medicine doctor named Lee Dong Yuan made this formula not for these emergency cases, however, but rather so that people could take ginseng daily to restore energy without disturbing the balance of Yin and Yang in the body. If during the summer, it is too hot, people may experience Yin deficiency and fatigue; in this case, Sheng Mai Yin can be used to restore Yin while also restoring Qi in general.  Ginseng alone, by contrast, would only restore Qi, but would exacerbate Yin deficiency in the process.

So, if you feel symptoms of constant thirst, fatigue (especially in the limbs), and profuse sweating, particularly in the summertime, you can easily purchase and drink Sheng Mai Yin.

However, when purchasing Sheng Mai Yin, you should be aware than there are generally two types: one is made with Korean ginseng, or Red Ginseng, this is typically more potent, and should be used when sick or experiencing symptoms of irregularity; the other type is made with dangshen, a relative of ginseng but less potent, and this can be taken frequently, just as you would take a vitamin or supplement.

Even if it’s not summer– if you ever feel stressed or anxious due to working excessively, or if you experience these symptoms: dry mouth/lack of saliva, fatigue in the limbs, and sweating easily, it may be a sign of Yin deficiency in the heart, as well as a lack of Qi. If this occurs, you can take Sheng Mai Yin to revitalize.

Emperor Qian Long of the Qing Dynasty would drink Sheng Mai Yin every day as a supplement, year-round.  This prevented his body from giving out, even though he worked long hours and strained himself for his country.  Though there were many factors in Emperor Qian Long’s longevity, one significant reason he lived so long was because of his Imperial Physician’s advice to take Sheng Mai Yin.

A final important note: when taking anything containing ginseng–including Sheng Mai Yin–it’s best not to eat any kind of radish (especially Daikon), because it has been known to cancel out the medicinal effects of ginseng.


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