Medicinal Plants:Ginseng

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Southwest Virginia Project
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Image:Ginseng.jpg It cheers the heart even of a man that has a bad wife....

William Byrd (see below)

From Source:Tyler, 1878:271-277

In the early part of the year 1729, in obedience to an appointment by the governor of Virginia, William Byrd joined an expedition for fixing the dividing line between that colony and North Carolina...Byrd kept a journal...[in which], As the expedition moves westward...he jots down admirable notices of rare plants and animals, racy sketches of Indian character, amusing stories of forest-adventure, a learned digression upon music, and vivacious pictures of the country through which they pass. He becomes a great enthusiast over the virtues of the plant, ginseng:
"Though practice will soon make a man of tolerable vigor an able footman, yet, as a help to bear fatigue, I used to chew a root of ginseng as I walked along. This kept up my spirits, and made me trip away as nimbly in my half jack-boots as younger men could in their shoes. This plant is in high esteem in China, where it sells for its weight in silver. . . . Indeed, it is a vegetable of so many virtues, that Providence has planted it very thin in every country that has the happiness to produce it. Nor, indeed, is mankind worthy of so great a blessing, since health and long life are commonly abused to ill purposes. . . . Its virtues are, that it gives an uncommon warmth and vigor to the blood, and frisks the spirits beyond any other cordial. It cheers the heart even of a man that has a bad wife, and makes him look down with great composure on the crosses of the world. It promotes insensible perspiration, dissolves all phlegmatic and viscous humors that are apt to obstruct the narrow channels of the nerves. It helps the memory, and would quicken even Helvetian dulncss. Tis friendly to the lungs, much more than scolding itself. It comforts the stomach, and strengthens the bowels, preventing all colics and fluxes. In one word, it will make a man live a great while, and very well while he does live. And what is more, it will make even old age amiable, by rendering it lively, cheerful, and good humored."'