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Archive for September 12, 2011

American Ginseng

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), is a perennial plant in the Aralia / Ivy family, commonly used in Chinese and herbal medicine.  It is found in hardwood forests in New England, but due to over-harvesting, is quite rare (Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett are said to have made large sums of money in ginseng trafficking).  It has a light tan, gnarled root that often looks like a human body with stringy shoots for arms and legs. If a plant looked like a part of the human body, it used to be assumed that it could cure that part.  Because ginseng’s root resembles  the entire human body, it was used to treat just about any ailment.  American ginseng was used traditionally by Native Americans as a stimulant and to treat headaches, fever, indigestion, and infertility.  Today it is associated with alternative treatment for diabetes, cancer, colds and flu, ADHD, immune system enhancement and sexual impotency.