Ginseng is a kind of root plants that is belong to Araliaceae and is used for medical purpose. Koreans use the root of the plant after removing small roots and cork layer. Ginseng can be sorted by its growing conditions or processing methods. The usual ginsengs sold on markets are mostly cultivated ones. It’s not hard to cultivate ginsengs on fields. When you pass by suburban areas in Korea, you can see many ginseng farms covered with black vinyl fabrics. Those black vinyl fabrics prevent ginsengs from drying out from the wind and protect against dirt and birds. The harvest time is usually from September to November, because ginseng in that season have the richest nutrition.
Besides cultivated ginsengs, there is also wild ginseng growing on mountains. Since it’s really rare it’s considered very valuable, and is known to have much more effects and to be healthier than it does with cultivated ginseng. There are actual some korean people who live on finding wild ginseng in the forest and nearby mountains. When they find the unique leaves looking like hands, they shout -Sim Bwatda(Saw a wild ginseng)- to let others know that he or she found it. It gets really pricy by how long it was stayed in the ground. It is the same with cultivated ginseng too, but the scales are different.
Ginseng are cultivated in many countries such as China, Japan, and Switzerland. Surprisingly, Switzerland cultivates the most major amount of ginsengs in the world. Additionally in northern America, there is a wild root plant that is very similar to ginseng and contains ginsenosides just as ginseng, so it is compared to Ginseng often as in how nutritious those are.
In Korea, Ginseng started to be cultivated in 14c, Goryeo era, which is even before Chosun era. Korean ginseng is called Goryeo ginseng and it is considered to have a high quality in compare to other kinds. Korean ginseng are mostly exported abroad including Asia, north America, middle Asia etc. The exportation scale is getting bigger lately. Many dried ginsengs are exported among them because it is more capable to be stored much longer, but even if so, it does not mean that dried ginsengs are less nutritious than fresh ginseng. Actually it is known that dried ginseng contain saponin 4 times more than fresh ginseng.
The red ginseng
Among processed ginseng like dried version, there is a kind called Red ginseng. This special ginseng that have been proceeded few processing of steaming and drying. Red ginseng is really popular to Koreans lately. Red ginseng is known to generate heat inside body and to help with fatigue, so it is considered to be an essential tonic for exhausted workers or students. You can find stick packaged Red ginseng resin products on markets easily. It’s really convenient so many people seek for it.
How to Eat Ginseng
Like this, you can eat ginseng in various ways. The most popular way to have it in foods is to put it in Samgyetang, which is a chicken stew that is known to get you good energy in summer. By putting ginseng, you can make Samgyetang healthier. Also, you can eat ginseng as healthy snack after preserving it with honey. It can be a good side dish as well. Making a tea with it is also a good choice. Another popular way to eat ginseng is to make ginseng alcohol. If you visit Korean households, you might be able to see those long jars that have ginseng in it. To make Ginseng alcohol, you pour Soju with fresh ginseng roots and age it for enough time.
Healthy Benefits of Ginseng
Ginseng is known to have great effects. Firstly, it protects your energy and makes you overcome weak strength, tiredness. It is also good when you have no appetite or when you feel sickness or when you have diarrhea. Ginseng help lungs to function properly, and prevent glycosemia. But it is also known to have side effects. For some people, Ginseng or red ginseng products generate heats and fasten their heartbeats as if they have taken a stimulant. Some people think it is allergic reaction. If you have the symptoms it is better to be careful. It makes you energetic but you might feel hard to sleep at night instead. Going to Korean medicine doctor to check if ginseng are good for me is the best way to eat it, but many people just go for ginseng or red ginseng products without checking if it works on them. Despites the effects that are known, modern medical communities does not seem to appreciate the effects of ginseng much. There have been researches and ginseng is considered as 2nd rated health functional food, but it says that ginsengs are not surely proven that it has all these effects. There has been a research that it can be bad for patients who have female diseases.
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