Ginseng helps the body better utilize oxygen, spares glycogen utilization, increases cerebral circulation, helps the adrenal glands to better conserve their stores of vitamin C, aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels, helps balance hormone levels in men and women, reduces LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels while elevating HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels, and aids in the production of DNA, RNA, interferon, and red and white blood cells.
Ginseng can improve stamina, reaction time, and concentration, which make it useful for such pursuits as studying, taking tests, long-distance driving, and meditating. It also speeds recovery time from sickness, surgery, childbirth, athletic performance, and other stressors to the body.
Ginseng is classified as a warm and drying herb and dosages range from 500 – 1,000 mg daily.
Rhodiola enhances T-cell immunity and can improve the function of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, by inhibiting their destruction by enzymes; it has been found to increase serotonin levels in the brain by up to 30%. Rhodiola also increases mental and physical performance.
Rhodiola can shorten recovery time between athletic endeavours, such as workouts, and can improve memory and work productivity.
Dosages range from 2,000 – 4,000 mg daily. Rhodiola is considered a moistening and cooling herb.
Ashwagandha is often prescribed in India to be taken along with antibiotics to prevent weakening of the immune system. It elevates iron levels in the blood, slightly decreases respiration, lowers blood pressure, relaxes smooth muscles, and, due to its flavonoid compounds, counters liver toxicity.
Ashwagandha works as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, thereby increasing the availability of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. It also appears to mimic the action of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in relaxing the body.
Ashwagandha is classified as a warm and moistening herb with dosages ranging from 1,000 – 6,000 mg daily.
Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) has been used as a tonic to invigorate and fortify the body against fatigue. It was often used to increase work capacity and concentration. It is an immune stimulant that is especially useful for preventing infection during times of intense physical activity and prolonged periods of stress.
Eleuthero supports the body by helping the liver detoxify harmful toxins, including chemotherapeutic agents and products of radiation exposure. Preliminary studies in Russia have confirmed the use of the herb for people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer, to help alleviate side effects, and to support bone marrow recover more quickly.
Eleuthero is classified as a warm and drying herb, with dosages ranging from 3,000 – 5,000 mg daily.
Dong Quai is taken by millions of women around the world on a daily basis as an invigorating tonic, helping to regulate menstruation and tonify the blood. It has a sweet, pungent aroma, and in China, it is often used in cooking, which is the best way to take it as a blood tonic.
Dong Quai is classified as a warm and drying herb with dosages ranging from 6,000 – 12,000 mg daily, with the higher dosages being more suitable as a decocted tea.
In South America, Suma is known as Brazilian Ginseng since it is widely used as an adaptogen for many things, much like regular ginseng. The Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon region who named it Para Toda, have used the root of Suma for generations for a wide variety of things including a general tonic, energy and rejuvenating tonic as well as a general cure-all for many types of illnesses.
Suma is classified as a warm and neutral herb with dosages ranging from 2,000 – 4,000 mg daily.
British Herbal Medicine Association. Scientific Committee. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Consolidated ed. West Yorkshire: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1983.
Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press, 2003.
Romm, Aviva Jill. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. St. Louis, Mo.: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2010.