On weekdays, I was an English teacher in Korea.
On the weekends, I was an explorer in a strange country.
One of the things that intrigued me most was the Asian system of traditional medicine.
I wasn’t interested in curing an illness, though.
I was interested in supplements that make a fit person even stronger.
I don’t trust big pharma, so as I browsed Seoul’s medicinal markets my goal was to go back to the source.
I saw things such as dried seahorses and live hornet’s nests being sold as medicines.
I tried out lots of things myself including roasted centipede, gastrodia(a plant that produces no chlorophyll and generates its food through symbiosis with fungal colonies), and mugwort a relative of nightshade that induces crazy, lucid dreams.
My favorite though, was the most famous of them all:
It contains phyto-androgens unique to ginseng plants known as ginsenosides, organic compounds that boost testosterone and strengthen the immune system. Ginseng is one of just a few herbs that’s known for benefiting pretty much the entire body, an adaptogen.
Better, it’s been used for thousands of years and in all that time, it’s never been associated with any of the devastating side effects that are commonplace with pharmaceuticals.
In Korea I was able to buy up entire 6 year old ginseng roots and consume them straight.
I loved the fiery rush and the extra resilience I’d get from consuming ginseng regularly and it became a part of my lifestyle.
When I got back to the states, I found the actual roots were almost impossible to find. Ginseng was only available as overpriced pills and weak extracts that were often made with junk grade young roots or cut with cheap imposters such as eleuthero root.
With little other choice I tried different brands of pills and was disappointed. They couldn’t compare to the real thing