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(6 pages total)

Page 5 - Tonic Herbs that Every Qigong Practitioner Should Know


Gecko Tail

The Gecko lizard that inhabits southern China is widely used in the Orient in tonic formulations. The tail and backbone of the Gecko are used traditionally as a warming yang tonic. It is a favorite among athletes for strength and endurance and is said to provide sexual energy. It is also traditionally used as a major lung tonic, as it is said to enhance the extraction of energy (qi) from the air. Gecko strengthens the kidneys.


Ginkgo Leaf

Ginkgo is used in China to improve circulation. The leaves of the Ginkgo tree are used in the Orient to "benefit the brain," by improving memory and the ability to concentrate. It is now known that Ginkgo biloba leaf extract improves oxygen supplies to the brain and other organs, including the genitals and skin. It is also traditionally used to strengthen the heart and lungs.


Ginseng Root

Oriental Ginseng is one of the most famous and valued herbs used by mankind, Panax Ginseng is an energy tonic that regulates the human energy system. It has been shown to be stimulating and regulatory to both the central nervous system and to the endocrine system. It is the primary qi tonic of Chinese tonic herbalism.

Ginseng helps a person to adapt to all kinds of stresses, and enhances endurance and resilience under stressful conditions. It has thus been termed an "adaptogenic" substance by scientific researchers. Ginseng is also used to tonify digestive and respiratory functions. Ginseng contains many active ingredients, but the most important are the saponins called ginsenosides. Ginsenosides specifically improve adaptability and are believed to help build muscle and endurance. Therefore ginseng is very popular with athletes. Ginseng generally has a "warm" energy.

There are in fact many varieties of ginseng, all of which have distinct characteristics. Most high quality ginseng is good for men and women alike. Wild and semi-wild ginseng is generally far superior to the cultivated, commercial varieties. The higher the quality, the more shen (spirit) a ginseng root is said to contain. Ask for advice as to which might be best for you. Beware of cheap ginseng products, because they are often made from immature roots that have imbalanced chemistry. These cheaper ginseng products account for ginseng's unfortunate reputation for increasing tension or for causing headaches, or even high blood pressure. Mature, high quality ginseng will not have side effects.


Gynostemma

Gynostemma is popularly believed in Asia to be an anti-aging, longevity herb. Gynostemma is generally reinforcing to overall health, has a strong anti-fatigue effect. It is also used throughout the Orient as a virtual "cure-all." Gynostemma is a major adaptogenic herb, in the same league as Panax Ginseng, Siberian Ginseng, Reishi, Schizandra and Astragalus.

In China, Gynostemma is widely believed to reduce oxygen deficiency at high altitudes, to improve digestion, to strengthen the mind, and to improve sexual functions. It is also believed to help calm the nerves and to ease pain.

The ultimate greatness of Gynostemma lies in its broad spectrum adaptogenic quality. It has double-direction activity in many areas. It has the ability to bring balance to the body under a wide range of stressful circumstances. Constant consumption of Gynostemma tends to have a highly protective quality because it strengthens the adaptive capacity of the person at every level of their life. The chemical constituents responsible for the adaptogenic characteristic of Gynostemma are saponins called gypenosides.

Gynostemma contains more than eighty different gypenosides. This is the broadest range of saponins in one plant in nature. Ginseng, for example has about thirty six saponins (ginsenosides) and Astragalus has about thirty two saponins (astragalosides). These gypenosides are very similar to the of ginseng and to the eleutherosides of Siberian ginseng. In fact, four of Gynostemma's saponins are precisely the same chemical structure as the saponins found in ginseng and eleven more are almost identical. The similarities are so close and so extensive that Gynostemma is now called "southern ginseng." To the local people who grow it and consume it, it is simply called "magical grass." Studies indicate that Gynostemma has a double-direction, regulating, adaptogenic influence of the central nervous system. It is calming when one is overexcited and stimulating when one is depressed. Japanese studies have shown that Gynostemma is clinically useful in a number of mental and neurological conditions, including simple depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Though Gynostemma is regarded as a tonic herb, it is already perceived by many Asian people to be a "cure all." In China, Gynostemma is being used to treat inflammation, stop cough, as an expectorant to remove sputum, to treat chronic bronchitis, and much more in actual clinical practice in Asia.


Jujube Fruit

This special fruit, sometimes called "red date," though it is not a true date, has been used since ancient times as a nutrient tonic, a blood cleanser, and as an important adjunctive herb to other tonics, especially in combination with ginseng and Dang Gui. Jujube is universally believed in the Orient to build strength and extend life. Jujube is slightly sedative and laxative and removes obstructions of the energy flow. Jujube is often used with ginseng to bolster ginseng's beneficial effects.


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