Sitting here looking out my office window at the sun sparkling on the ice-coated branches of the Bradford Pear trees in my front yard. It sure is beautiful but … I really wish it would go away. Unfortunately, we’re not supposed to get above freezing for the next three days! Brrr!

red_ginsengSo I decided while I’m waiting on the temps to warm up, I’d work on getting my office organized. That lasted maybe five minutes, until I got to the Appalachian Journey notes file and I found a few notes I’d jotted down during phone conversations with Daddy. Some of them were very hard to read–my handwriting has gotten atrociuos since I quit teaching. I’m not sure why I hadn’t ever added them to the computer file, but I suspect it’s merely laziness, so I decided I’d better get out my magic decoder ring and do my best to decipher the chicken scratch…

And I found a note about Aunt Bessie’s springtime ritual of giving Daddy a tonic made of ginseng (or ‘sang asginseng_bed_001 she called it) roots to clear away the winter blahs and get his blood pumping again. Below that, I’d written Tasted Terrible!!!!, underlined  three times.

I’ve never had ginseng root tea but I trust Daddy’s taste and don’t think I’ll go looking for a cup anytime soon. Still, it got me thinking about a program I’d seen about harvesting ginseng and how it’s now listed on the endangered plants list and a lot of states have laws governing when and how you can dig the roots.

But if it tastes so awful, why is it being dug to the point of extinction? To answer that, I turned to my trusty research book, Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, authored by Steven Foster and James A. Duke, put out by Peterson Field Guides:

ginseng-roots-400009“Root considered demulcent, tonic. Research suggests it may increase mental efficiency and physical performance and aid in adapting to high or low temperatures and stress (when taken over an extended period). Ginseng’s effect is called “adaptogenic”–tending to return the body to normal while increasing resistance to adverse influences on the body.”

So, it looks like Aunt Bessie was right; ginseng root tea taken as a tonic in the spring does have the ability to take away the winter blahs and get your body ready for the increased activity that comes with the warmer weather.

There’s a lot to be said for those old remedies!