Herb Basics

| July/August 2007

  • Karen Bergeron, www.AltNature.com
  • Karen Bergeron, www.AltNature.com
  • Karen Bergeron, www.AltNature.com
  • Karen Bergeron, www.AltNature.com

A Place to Start

Wild Ginseng: Coveted Like Gold

The high market price for wild American ginseng root (Panax quinquefolius)—as much as $600 a pound—might lead to its extinction.

Officials in the Northeastern United States, where the wild herb grows, say that the price encourages poachers and some landowners to take the wild roots before they have a chance to reach seed-bearing age, a practice that could lead to the end of P. quinquefolius. It once grew freely in cool wetlands from Quebec to Manitoba and as far south as Florida.

The market for wild American ginseng root lies largely in the East, where Asians believe it possesses more therapeutic value than its cultivated counterpart (grown mainly in Wisconsin and British Columbia). But experts also attribute its popularity to a growing interest in ginseng in the West. It has been officially listed as a threatened species in more than half of the 50 United States and is one of United Plant Savers’ “At-Risk” herbs. Fortunately, organic cultivated American ginseng is available.

Avoid These Hazards for Good Health

According to herbalist and acupuncturist Lesley Tierra, there are several health hazards we should try to avoid, as they might weaken the body and predispose us to illness:

• Refined foods, such as white flour, white sugar and white pasta
• Chemicals and preservatives in food
• Frequent indulgence in junk foods
• Polluted air and water
• Proximity to major electrical wiring, or living close to power plants
• Stress-causing situations
• Job stress or incompatibility
• Relationship problems
• Frequent use of antibiotics
• Living near toxic waste dumps
• Side effects from prescription drugs

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