ginseng (generic name)
- Auto Immune Conditions
- Bladder & Kidney Health
- Brain & Nervous System
- Care Transitions
- Dental Health
- Emotional Health
- Eye Health
- Falls Prevention
- Financial Planning
- General Safety
- Health Care Basics
- Healthy Living
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Health
- High Blood Pressure
- Life Transitions
- Lung Health
- Men's Health
- Nutrition & Weight Management
- Pain Management
- Preventive Health
- Sexual Health
- Stomach & Digestive Health
- Stress & Anxiety
- Women's Health
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Adults (over 18 years old)
Many different doses are used traditionally. Practitioners sometimes recommended that after using ginseng continuously for 2-3 weeks, people should take a break for 1-2 weeks. Long-term dosing should not exceed 1 gram of dry root daily.
Capsules containing 100-200 milligrams of a standardized ginseng extract (4% ginsenosides) have been taken by mouth once or twice daily for up to 12 weeks. 0.5-2 grams of dry ginseng root, taken daily by mouth in divided doses, has also been used. E. senticosus dry extract at a dose of 300 milligrams daily was used for eight weeks to improve quality of life in elderly patients. A ginseng root extract has been studied in athletes for 28 days at a dose of 400 milligrams daily. Higher doses are sometimes given in studies or under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider. A decoction of 1-2 grams added to 150 milliliters of water, has been taken by mouth daily. A 1:1 (grams per milliliter) fluid extract has been taken as 1-2 milliliters by mouth daily. 5-10 milliliters (about 1-2 teaspoons) of a 1:5 (grams per milliliter) tincture has been taken by mouth daily.
Panax ginseng tea may be made by soaking about 3,000 milligrams (3 grams) of chopped fresh root or 1,500 milligrams (1.5 grams) of dried root powder in about 5 ounces of boiling water for 5-15 minutes and then straining the tea. Some sources suggest consuming ginseng tea via the above method 3-4 times daily for 3-4 weeks.
When applied on the skin, 0.20 grams of SS-cream containing ginseng has been used to treat premature ejaculation.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is not enough scientific information available to recommend the safe use of ginseng in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
People with known allergies to Panax species and/or plants in the Araliaceae family should avoid ginseng. Signs of allergy may include rash, itching, or shortness of breath. Inhalation of ginseng root dust has been associated with immediate and late-onset asthma.
Side Effects and Warnings
Ginseng has been well tolerated by most people in scientific studies when used at recommended doses, and serious side effects appear to be rare.
Based on limited evidence, long-term use may be associated with skin rash or spots, itching, diarrhea, sore throat, loss of appetite, excitability, anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Less common reported side effects include headache, fever, dizziness, chest pain, difficult menstruation, heartburn, heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, leg swelling, nausea/vomiting, or manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder.
Consumption of ginseng may increase or and decrease blood pressure. Caution should be used in those with high or low blood pressure or in those taking drugs for either of these conditions.
There is report of seizures after high consumption of energy drinks containing caffeine, guarana, and herbal supplements, including ginseng.
Based on human research, ginseng may lower blood sugar levels. This effect may be greater in patients with diabetes than in non-diabetics. Use cautiously in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
There are reports of nosebleeds and vaginal bleeding with ginseng use, although scientific study is limited in this area. There is also evidence in humans of ginseng reducing the effectiveness of the "blood thinning" medication warfarin (Coumadin®). Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may affect the risk of bleeding or blood clotting. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Several cases of severe drops in white blood cell counts were reported in people using a combination product containing ginseng in the 1970s; this may have been due to contamination.
Ginseng may have estrogen-like effects and has been associated with reports of breast tenderness, loss of menstrual periods, vaginal bleeding after menopause, breast enlargement (reported in men), difficulty developing or maintaining an erection, or increased "sexual responsiveness." Avoid use of ginseng in patients with hormone sensitive conditions, such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, or endometriosis.
A severe life-threatening rash known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome occurred in one patient and may have been due to contaminants in a ginseng product. A case report describes liver damage (cholestatic hepatitis) after taking a combination product containing ginseng.
High doses of ginseng have been associated with rare cases of temporary swelling of blood vessels in the brain (cerebral arteritis), abnormal dilation of the pupils of the eye or confusion.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Ginseng has been used traditionally in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Animal studies and early human research suggests that ginseng may be safe, although safety has not been clearly established in humans. Therefore, ginseng use cannot be recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Neonatal death and the development of male characteristics in a developing baby girl after her mother was exposed to ginseng during pregnancy has been reported.
Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol and should be avoided during pregnancy.