Guest Author - Chris McBeath
Quieting the spirit, removing noxious influence, brightening the eyes, and enlightening the mind. Continuous use leads one to longevity with light weight.”
At first blush, Kamloops, in the heart of British Columbia, Canada, seems an unlikely venue for North America’s first ginseng spa. After all, the surrounding countryside is best known for its sprawling cattle ranches and real McCoy, kick dust, eat dirt, cattle drives. Take a second look, however, and you see the roots of its evolution. The evidence – a rather anomalous sight, lies under vast tracts of low lying, black tarpaulin tents stretched across more than 120 hectares of sun-scorched hills. It’s beneath their shadows that young ginseng plants thrive, creating a multi-million dollar industry for this rural community and a destination day spa that is as much educational as it is a delightful surprise.
The Ginseng Allure
The word ginseng is said to mean ‘the wonder of the world’ – its generic name, Panax, a derivative from the Greek Panakos (a panacea), in reference to the miraculous health benefits ascribed to it by the Chinese. Ginseng has been a vital part of traditional Chinese medicine for some 3,000 years and still today, physicians use ginseng in their best compound prescriptions. Meanwhile, in the West, the therapeutic benefits of ginseng are being borne out by science, and it is now widely accepted that ginseng has a positive influence on heart health, diabetes, menopausal symptoms and more.
This healthful plant has, in fact, always been a part of the North American landscape where it grows abundantly along the mountains from Quebec and Ontario, south to Georgia. For centuries, Native American Indians recognized its medicinal properties and in the 1700s, when demand for the root had outpaced China’s ability to harvest (ginseng has a six to ten year growth cycle), enterprising Jesuits began shipping the North American root to China where ginseng commanded prices five times higher than was achieved stateside. Today, exports are stronger than ever; Canada is the world’s third most important ginseng producer, behind only China and Korea, exporting almost 90 per cent of its ginseng root overseas.
Ginseng Spa Design
The Sunmore Ginseng Spa is an offshoot of The Sunmore Ginseng Factory, a Taiwanese based company which established itself in Canada in the early nineties, and has since become one of the region’s most successful exporters.
The spa, which incorporates ginseng therapies, was a natural evolution in a geographic location and wellness sector that was also growing exponentially.
True to its Asian origins, the custom-built, 20,000 sq ft spa incorporates several elements of Feng Shui, including the building’s direction (East, to match the flow of Qi of the two spa principals), an oversized entrance lobby with a waterfall and reflexology pebble path, a spacious zen-styled relaxing lounge and exceptionally large treatment rooms.
Each treatment room is themed to Thailand, Japan, Europe and China, as authentically as possible. For example, in Asia, the spa culture is very open so our main room has three soaker baths, three massage waterfalls, two saunas, and two steam rooms. Although some concessions had to be made to fit with North American hygiene standards (the traditional Japanese two-person wooden tubs were replaced with individual units), every suite includes a meticulous attention to detail from ornamental European claw baths, to hand-woven Thai silks and many antiques from China.
Ginseng Spa Treatments
As the only significant destination day spa in Kamloops, Sunmore has created a wonderful retreat. Most of its treatments have a bathing component which is somewhat like steeping yourself in warm ginseng tea – but there are also ginseng body scrubs, and facials that include this miracle plant. Products are made on site, and research is underway to develop a consumer line.
Until then, here are some Ginseng Beauty Recipes
Ginseng Honey Hair Wrap
For shine and moisturized lustre, apply ½ cup ginseng honey directly to damp hair and massage into scalp. Cover hair with shower cap or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
Rinse hair and shampoo as usual
1 tbs ginseng hone plus ¼ cup ginseng powder (contents of two capsules)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs plain yogurt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes
Apply to face for 10 minutes; then gently remove with warm water
Steep two ginseng tea bags in ½ cup boiling water for 10 minutes.
Allow water to cool. Then apply tonic to face with cotton ball, daily, for best results.