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Frequently Asked Questions about Ginseng

1. What is Ginseng?
Ginseng root is native to eastern Asia and North America, and has been in use as a folk medicine and tonic amongst the peoples of China, Korea, Thailand, Viet Nam and Manchuria, as well as amongst Native Americans, for untold thousands of years. Frequently used as a potent preventative rather than a curative, it has also demonstrated tremendous therapeutic benefits for a wide number of conditions. If taken regularly it increases vitality, and can extend your life span.

2. Why should I use Ginseng?
- Opening the mind 
- Strengthening the body 
- Improving memory 
- Increasing vitality 
- Extending endurance 
- Cleansing the body of stress 
- Fighting fatigue 
- Resisting disease 
- Bolstering immunity 
- Balancing metabolism 
- Preventing headaches 
- Treating sleep disorders and overcoming insomnia 
- Ginseng has had beneficial effects on women suffering post-menopausal symptoms. 
- Ginseng has also demonstrated clinical improvements in virility among men, and effected improvements in conditions of sexual dysfunction for both sexes.


3. How do I use Ginseng?
 Dried ginseng root has been the most commonly available form of ginseng in Asia for thousands of years. The root can be used by itself in an infusion (tea), or as a part of a combination of herbal ingredients taken together either as an infusion, a pill, or a medicinal wine. The most popular ways of consuming ginseng root are as an infusion or as an extract. The dried roots can also be sliced for consumption by themselves or in combination with other foods such as honey. Alternatively, they can be powdered and added to foods that way, or the powder packed into gel capsules.

4. How often should I use Ginseng?
Many authorities recommend from 1 to 2 grams of pure high quality ginseng powder per day, but this may be difficult to follow if you are ingesting ginseng in a tea, or in a capsule that may not contain pure ginseng or top quality root.

5. Why should I buy the whole roots or extract rather than the capsules or prepackaged tea commonly sold?
Extracts are an effective means of ingesting ginseng, and are very popular in China. The extract is made from the entire root, rather than trying to isolate any particular components. This is in contraposition to western medicine which has often focused on distilling the active essence of medicinal plants, and has only recently begun to accept that medicinal plants contain many other substances that may be essential for those "active" components to properly function and provide maximum benefit. Eastern medicine has for thousands of years adopted a far more holistic approach to pharmacology, one that western medicine is only now beginning to accept and understand.

6. What is the difference between "Red" Ginseng and "White" Ginseng?
Ginseng is naturally white or off-white when harvested. The manner in which it is then dried determines the color. In ancient times red ginseng was ginseng which had been dried in the sun. In modern times red ginseng is often steamed during processing, which has the similar effect of changing the color to red. In both cases this is probably due to the caramelizing of sugars in the root.  Red ginseng is considered more warm, or "yang" than white ginseng. It has been theorized that the effect sun-drying or steam drying has on the ginsenocides, the principal active ingredients of ginseng root, may be no different than the effect caused by simply infusing a dried white root into tea.

7. What are the active ingredients in Ginseng root?
Approximately 29 ginsenocides, known by their scientific name "tripterpenoid saponins" and also sometimes called panaxosides, have been identified in ginseng root. These ginsenocides have been demonstrated to have a powerful function as an adaptogen, invaluable in helping the body adapt to and recover from the effects of stress, disease, and fatigue. They also contain a strong anti-oxidant component that has been shown in clinical studies to aid in combating the effects of aging. Additionally, saponins are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsing, and a regulator of blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

8. What is Korean and Chinese Ginseng?
Asian ginseng, including Korean, Manchurian, Vietnamese, and Chinese ginseng, is referred to by the scientific name Panax Ginseng or Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer, after the Russian botanist Carl Anton Meyer who catalogued ginseng in 1843.  Asian ginseng is considered to be very "yang", or warm, and is often used for relatively limited periods of time. It contains roughly half the number of active ginsenocides found in American ginseng, which is considered to be cooler, or more "yin", and better suited for long term usage.

9. What is North American Ginseng?
American ginseng is known by the scientific name Panax Quinquefolius, after the five-leaf formation common to the species. It contains almost twice as many ginsenosides as Asian ginseng, and is highly valued in the orient. The best North American ginseng grows in Wisconsin and Ontario; with ginseng of almost equal quality being grown in the Catskills of New York and parts of Pennsylvania.



Frequently Asked Questions about Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

1. What are the active ingredients?
Researchers have identified that water-soluble polysaccharides are one of the active ingredients found in Red Reishi that have anti-tumour, immune modulating and blood pressure lowering effects.

Another active ingredient is triterpenes, a class of them found in Reishi is known as ganoderic acids. Studies have indicated that ganoderic acids help alleviate common allergies by inhibiting histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions.

2. Are there any side-effects?
No. According to classical literature, Reishi is classified as a superior herb. Superior herbs are said to be non-toxic and can be consumed in large quantities and for a long period without any side effects.

After 2,000 years, there are still no side effects reported in available literature and clinical studies. However, very sensitive individuals may experience some detoxification symptoms such as mild digestive upset, dizziness, sore bones, and skin rashes during the initial period of intake. This is the excretion of accumulated toxic matters from modern day foods and vigorous activities of the body metabolism. These are all normal signs of recovery and an indication that the medicinal effect of Red Reishi is functioning well. These detoxification symptoms will usually go away within a few days of continuous use of Reishi.

Futhermore, in American Herbal Pharmacopoeia®'s published monograph on Reishi mushrooms, Reishi is classified as "Class 1: Herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately (McGuffin and others 1997). No side effects were reported in the available clinical literature. Clinicians have reported occasional mild digestive upset and skin rashes in sensitive individuals. These side effects are usually of short duration."

Taking a source of Vitamin C with Reishi can help reduce any side effects which may occur upon the initial intake of the herb.

3. Can I take Reishi with my other medications?
Yes. Reishi is a natural health supplement and there are no reported contraindications in over 2,000 years of study. However, all immune-modulating substances such as Reishi should be taken with care for patients undergoing organ transplants and using immunosuppressive drugs.
It is always a good idea to consult a qualified health physician (preferably someone with experience in complementary health care) before consuming any dietary supplement.

4. How soon can one see the results of taking Reishi?
Results can vary from individual to individual.

Normally one can notice the benefits from taking high quality Reishi after about 10 days to two weeks. One can experience a significant difference with their overall well-being after taking Reishi continuously for two months.

It is important for individuals to make Reishi a part of their daily routine for preventative health.

5. Is Reishi good for all age groups?
Yes. Reishi is a health food supplement that is useful for all age groups.

However, once again it is recommended to consult a qualified health physician just to be safe when taking any dietary supplement.

6. What are the directions to take Reishi?
Reishi is best taken in the morning with an empty stomach. Drinking more water will also help enhance the effects of Reishi by helping the body get rid of poisonous waste.

It is also recommended to take Vitamin C with Reishi as this will assist the body in absorbing the active ingredients in Reishi. Studies have shown that Vitamin C helps break down the complex polysaccarides into smaller manageable pieces that the body can intake.

7. Which Reishi product is right for me?
Like any other product, not all Reishi are created equal. Reishi products have different levels of quality depending on the manufacturer. Factors such as the method of cultivation, the quality of the plant's mother fungi, the growing conditions, and the processing method used to extract the Reishi essence from the Reishi mushroom all play an important role in determining the potency of a Reishi product.

As the Japanese are the originators for cultivating Reishi commercially, products from Japan generally use the best cultivation technique called the natural wood log method to cultivate high-grade Reishi.

Before deciding on which product to use, also make sure that it is properly and clearly labeled with the ingredients, extract ratio, manufacturer or importer address, and product origin. Any authentic, high-quality, and safe health supplement will contain this information.

8. What are the different types of cultivation for red Reishi?
The three most common method of cultivation include wood pulp , wooden box , and natural wood log cultivation.

Wood pulp cultivation involves placing wood pulp in a glass bottle with Reishi fungi added. After 3 months, this usually will yield small mushrooms of relatively poor quality.

Wood box cultivation involves grafting the fungi into a wooden log which is then placed in a wooden box. Reishi of medium-size and moderate quality are generally produced through this method after 6 months.

9. What is the difference between black Reishi and red Reishi?
Only six kinds of Reishi have been studied in greater detail to uncover potential health benefits – red, black, blue, white, yellow and purple Reishi. Of these six types, black and red Reishi have demonstrated the most significant health-enhancing effects, and both are therefore widely used in the global health supplement market today.

However, red Reishi has been proven to be the most effective in improving one’s overall health by enhancing the immune system, many bodily functions, and vital organs. Black Reishi (Ganoderma sinensis), is fairly common and can be found in most Chinese herbal shops. This species of Ganoderma tends to be unevenly shaped and can measure up to ten inches in diameter, although most mature specimens are about six inches in diameter. The majority of Reishi products that claim to be using "wild". Reishi generally use black Reishi. While it still possesses some value as a moderate herbal tonic, black Reishi is considered to be inferior to red Reishi because of its lower polysaccharide content.

10. Should Reishi be taken only when one is ill?
No. Reishi can be taken at any time even when one is not ill. The primary benefit of Reishi is its ability to support and modulate the immune system to an optimal level. Hence, Reishi is beneficial even for a healthy person. It is best to make red Reishi a part of your daily routine for preventative health.

11. In addition to using red Reishi products, how can I improve my health?Nutritionists recommend the following:

Refrain from using refined sugar. Substitute with pure honey or fruit sugar instead.
Avoid processed foods (e.g. canned foods, instant noodles, soda pop, etc.)
Eat a healthy mix of natural foods from each food group to maintain your nutritional balance. Include all types of vegetables in your diet, especially those with stalks and roots.
Drink more water. Try to drink 8 glasses of water a day. This will prevent cellular dehydration and enhance your metabolic functions to rid your body of poisonous waste.

12. How is Reishi Essence extract different from Reishi it its raw form?
As raw Reishi itself is hard and not edible, the nutritional value of Reishi in its raw form is low without any further processing. It is difficult for the body to absorb the active ingredients of raw Reishi without any extraction.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and throughout its history of use, only fully-grown dried Red Reishi was used, cut into slices, boiled in hot water, and then finally drunk in a tea/soup in order to properly digest the active ingredients.
 
13.
How is Reishi different from other mushrooms?
While mushrooms such as shitake, maitake, and cordyceps, all share similar immune boosting properties, Red Reishi has also the longest history and has been known to be effective in the treatment of the widest range of health conditions. Unlike other mushrooms, only Red Reishi has many important compounds such as triterpenes (ganoderic acid) that gives Reishi its unique characterisic of being bitter in taste.

14. Where does Reishi come from?
The Reishi mushroom is found in nature on plum trees. However, it is extremely rare and almost impossible to find in this manner. For this reason, it was deemed as priceless and only consumed by royalty in China and Japan for thousands of years.

In the early 1970s, Japanese researchers discovered a method for cultivating Reishi on a mass scale. Now Red Reishi is readily available and can be found cultivated commerically in Japan, China, the US, and other parts of Asia.

15. What are all the benefits of Reishi?
The following table was found in a published article titled Medicinal mushrooms: their therapeutic properties and current medical usage with special emphasis on cancer treatments from Cancer Research UK.

Table - Pharmacological effects of whole Reishi extracts in vivo and in vitro

Analgesic
Anti-allergic activity
Bronchitis-preventative effect, inducing regeneration of bronchial epithelium
Anti-inflammatory
Antibacterial, against Staphylococci, Streptococci, and Bacillus pneumoniae (perhaps due to increased immune system activity)
Antioxidant, by eliminating hydroxyl free radicals
Antitumor activity
Antiviral effect, by inducing interferon production
Lowers blood pressure
Enhances bone marrow nucleated cell proliferation
Cardiotonic action, lowering serum cholesterol levels with no effect on triglycerides, enhancing myocardial metabolism of hypoxic animals, and improving coronary artery hemodynamics
Central depressant and peripheral anticholinergic actions on the autonomic nervous system reduce the effects of caffeine and relax muscles
Enhanced natural killer cell (NK) activity in vitro in mice
Expectorant and antitussive properties demonstrated in mice studies
General immunopotentiation
Anti-HIV activity in vitro and in vivo
Improved adrenocortical function
Increased production of Interleukin-1 by murine peritoneal macrophages in vitro
Increased production of Interleukin-2 by murine splenocytes in vitro

Key active constituents :

Beta and hetero-Beta-glucans (antitumor, immunostimulating )
Ling Zhi-8 protein (anti-allergenic, immuno-modulating)
Ganodermic acids – triterpenes (anti-allergenic agents, cholesterol and blood pressure reducing