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Zofona > Zofona Seoul > Restaurant reviews Korea > Korean food preparation > Korean Ginseng
According to ancient records ginseng was already used as a medicinal herb in Korea between 456-536 AD. At that time it was already considered a miraculous medicine.
The light colored root is used to prepare the famous Ginseng. The ginseng plant has leaves with a circular pattern. The flowers are between yellow and green and the ginseng produces red berries.
The age of the ginseng root is determined by the number of wrinkles around the plant's neck. The ginseng should be at least between 4 and 6 years old before it can be used.
Herb specialists believe that ginseng can cure a wide range of illnesses. Ginseng is used as a natural way to combat many different diseases and to improve health in general. A lot of Asian people also believe that Ginseng is the best of all natural herbs.
Panax ginseng is known as an adaptogen. It is believed to help in dealing with physical and emotional stress. Panax ginseng has been an important herb in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
Nowadays it is still in traditional Chinese medicine as an herb treatment for several problems, including heart problems. But it is also used to to enhance overall health. Because of the powerfull effect of ginseng it is used as a medicine only after consulting a specialist. .
Some studies claim that panax ginseng regulates the immune system and that it prevent colds, flue. These studies also claim that panax is relaxing lung muscles which could relieve some symptoms associated with asthma. It even might increase memory capacity. These possible effects are now being researched.
Ginseng medicines are normally made from the root and the long root hairs. The main chemical ingredients are called: ginsenosides, glycans, polysaccharide fraction DPG-3-2; peptides; maltol; and volatile oil.
In South Korea you can easily find ginseng vendors and oriental medicine (ginseng) specialists (they call themselves oriental doctor). The best area to do your ginseng shopping is Gyeongdong Herbal Medicine Market (Jegidong Station, line 1). Here you will find lots of shops selling ginseng products and other herbal medicine. At the Joong Ang Ginseng Center they are willing to explain you all things about their ginseng products so you will be able to purchase that kind of ginseng product you need. Of course the most popular and also most expensive ginseng is red ginseng.
When you have certain health problems consult first one of these 'oriental doctors' in order to get a personal ginseng prescription. The use of ginseng as a medicine without knowledge or good advise can cause other health problems as well.
Ginseng as a souvenir.
You can buy ginseng tea, ginseng candy, dried ginseng roots and above all, ginseng in a bottle with fluid. Some of these bottles are pieces of art on their own and just look great in your home. Even if you dislike the strong ginseng taste it might be a good idea to check out these shops.
We will add pictures of Gyeongdong Herbal Medicine Market soon.
posted by Jitze (25/06/05)
Ginseng is known as the most efficient substance of Oriental medicinal herbs. Various kinds of Ginseng are produced in many countries. The best of them is the Goryeo Ginseng and it is famous all over the world. It has become almost a symbol of Korea. The Goryeo Ginseng products, especially the ones harvested in Seosan, are from an outstanding quality compared with others. The quality of Ginseng depends on the climate and the soil where it grows.
For best-quality ginseng cultivation, summer wether should be ralatively cool and the no-frost period should be long enough for the Ginseng to grow in a healthy way. In most countries those to conditions are difficult to find. The best area in Korea is the region between 36 degrees and 38 degrees in the north latitude. The regions lower than this in the latitude have a longer no-frost period but they are too hot in summer. The regions higher than that are cool in summer but have a no-frost period which is to short for cultivating Ginseng.
The regions producing Ginseng in China, America and Canada are situated between 42 and 46 degrees northern latitude, with cool summers and a no-frost period between 110 and 130 days per year. Korean Ginseng Specialists say that these conditions are not perfect for optimal Ginseng cultivation.
But are the regions near 38 degrees in north latitude in China, America and Canada not suitable to cultivate Ginseng? Unfortunately not, the summer in those areas is too hot due to the continental climate. The Korean peninsula is narrow and long, surrounded by seas. Even the Southern areas in Korea are cool in summer and the no-frost period is about 180 days per year. These facts make Seosan (37 degrees in the north latitude) the best place in Korea to cultivate Ginseng.
Another important part in cultivating Ginseng is the soil. In Seosan the soil is yellow which is the most suitable soil for cultivating Ginseng. For centuries yellow soil plays a hughe role in Korea. Koreans used it for building houses and made floors of it. Also a bed of yellow soil excists since they found out it contributes to a healthy way of living. Yellow soil hot springs, yellow soil massage, etcetera are used for health care. In ancient times the Koreans used already yellow soil as a fertilizer and waste yellow soil bricks were pulverized and used for Ginseng cultivation.
Why is this yellow soil so important? If you put a grain of yellow soil under a microscope you will see that it has pores, like a sponge. With numerous micro organisms living in those pores the pores are are very effective in absorbing and preserving nutrients. They are also purifying air, dissolving pollutants and detoxicating. Yellow soils contain a large quantity of potassium carbonate, silicic acid, aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, etc. which are very necessary for growing Ginseng. Yellow soils are excellent conditioners for the best Ginseng.
Efficacy of Ginseng
Ginseng has been called "All Cure" and "Medicine for Longevity" from ancient times. The scientific name of Ginseng was given "panax ginseng C.A. Meyer" by C.A. Meyer, a Russian scholar in 1943. Panax is a combination of "pan" which means "all things" and the Greek "axos" which means "medicine", meaning "All Cure". The efficacy of Ginseng was introduced in a Chinese medical document as having "seven effects" and revealed by modern science.
1) Builds up energy and strengthens physical stamina
2) Accelerates blood circulation
3) Stabilizes nerve and eases various stresses
4) Relieves thirst and cures diabetes
5) Eases asthma and stabilizes breath
6) Strengthens digestive organs
7) Detoxicates and normalizes the skin function
Modern science has found Goryeo Ginseng has effects on various diseases: Curing diabetes, anti-cancer, curing arteriosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels), hypertension, liver protection, curing stomach problems and a hangover, anti-fatigue, anti-stress, curing anemia, anti-aging and so on. More than that, Ginseng has been found highly effective in strengthening blood circulation and the imune system. Also for people who received medical radioactive treatment Ginseng is proven to decrease the side-effects of this kind of treatment. Various papers have been published which supports these findings.
Ginseng is consumed much in South-east Asian countries where Oriental Medicine is widely practised. People in China, Hong-Kong, Taiwan and Korea take and drink Ginseng products to build up their resistance against diseases.
How to use Ginseng for healthcare?
Recommended is a ginseng drink of 30 cc twice or three times a day.
Ingredients: 20 to 30 gr. of red/white Ginseng, 10 gr. date, 3 gr. ginger, 1 liter water.
They were put in a medicine pot made of yellow soil and brewed for about two hours. Then the brew is filtered through a cloth and ready for use.
(posted by Christina, information given by Mok Sung-koong)