- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: panax ginseng
Brand and Other Names: Asian Ginseng, Chinese Ginseng, ginseng radix, Ginseng Root, Japanese Ginseng, Jintsam, Korean Ginseng, Ninjin, Radix Ginseng, Red Ginseng, Ren Shen
Drug Class: Adaptogens, Herbals
What is panax ginseng, and what is it used for?
Panax ginseng is an herbal supplement prepared from the root of the Panax ginseng plant. Panax ginseng is one of the most commonly used herbs in the world and has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.
Panax ginseng is an herbal adaptogen, a substance that is believed to help people adapt to and manage stress, anxiety, and fatigue, and is believed to enhance overall health, stamina and cognitive function.
The main active compounds in panax ginseng are ginsenosides and most studies have focused on the medicinal effects of ginsenosides. Panax ginseng, however, contains many other bioactive ingredients including phytosterols, sesquiterpenes, flavonoids, polyacetylenes, alkaloids, and phenolic compounds, and it is not clear if ginsenosides act alone or all these ingredients work together. Some of the ginseng products are now standardized to specific concentrations of ginsenosides.
Ginsenosides are believed to have antitumor, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and may produce therapeutic effects on various body systems including the nervous system, cardiovascular system and the immune system. Uses of panax ginseng include:
- Enhancement of physical and athletic performance
- Improving cognitive function
- Boosting the immune system
- Treatment of:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Premature ejaculation
- Male impotence and infertility
- Headaches and pain
- Menopausal hot-flashes
- High or low blood pressure
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Fatigue related to multiple sclerosis
- Respiratory inflammation
There is limited evidence that panax ginseng may have some effect in cognitive function, diabetes, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, however, there is very little scientific evidence to support most of its other uses.
Panax ginseng is available as standardized extract capsules, dry root that can be brewed as tea, root powder that can be taken orally, and cream that can be applied on the penis for erectile dysfunction. Panax ginseng is also added to energy drinks, foods and skin care products.
- Do not take panax ginseng if you have any of the following conditions:
- Bleeding or blood clotting disorders
- Breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer
- Endometriosis or uterine fibroids
- Estrogen-dependent malignancies
- Hormone sensitive conditions
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Do not use panax ginseng in:
- Use with caution in patients with:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Autoimmune conditions
What are the side effects of panax ginseng?
Common side effects of panax ginseng include:
- Fever (pyrexia)
- High or low blood pressure (hypertension/hypotension)
- Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
- Breast pain (mastalgia)
- Vaginal bleeding
- Absence of menstruation (amenorrhea)
- Reduced appetite
- Swelling (edema)
- Allergic skin reactions such as:
- Itching (pruritus)
- Rose spots
Rare and severe side effects of panax ginseng include:
- Inflammation of the arteries in the brain (cerebral arteritis)
- Inflammation of the liver due to impaired bile flow (cholestatic hepatitis)
- Severe skin reactions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug.
Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of panax ginseng?
There isn't enough reliable information to know what might be an appropriate dose of panax ginseng. Natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Follow directions on product labels and consult a healthcare professional before using.
Cut or Powdered Root
- 0.6-3 g orally one to three times daily
Brewed Root Tea
- 3 g orally one to three times daily
- 900 mg orally three times daily
- Topical cream applied 1 hour prior to intercourse and washed off before intercourse has been used
- 200 mg orally once/day
- 100-300 mg extract three times daily for 3-4 weeks
- Extract standardized to 7% ginsenosides
- Long-term use or high doses of panax ginseng can cause headache, dizziness, stomach upset, muscle weakness, liver damage and menstrual changes.
- In case of overdose, discontinue panax ginseng and if symptoms do not resolve, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.
What drugs interact with panax ginseng?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Panax ginseng has no known severe interactions with other drugs.
- Panax ginseng has no known serious interactions with other drugs.
- Panax ginseng has moderate interactions with at least 72 different drugs.
- Panax ginseng has mild interactions with at 39 different drugs.
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Do not take panax ginseng if you are pregnant, it may cause fetal harm. One of the chemicals in panax ginseng was found to be implicated in birth defects in animal studies.
- There isn’t enough information on the safety of panax ginseng use in nursing mothers, avoid use.
What else should I know about panax ginseng?
- Panax ginseng may be generally safe for adults if used for short periods.
- Always check labels for ingredients; panax ginseng formulations may contain multiple other ingredients.
- Panax ginseng is marketed as a dietary supplement and does not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the FDA. There may be discrepancy between the labeling and the actual ingredients and their amounts. Choose your product carefully.
- Many herbal products including ginseng available over-the-counter do not contain any of the plants listed on the ingredient labels or contain many unlisted contaminants from other plants.
Panax ginseng is an herbal adaptogen, a substance that is believed to help people adapt to and manage stress, anxiety, and fatigue, and is believed to enhance overall health, stamina and cognitive function. Common side effects of panax ginseng include headache, fever (pyrexia), high or low blood pressure (hypertension/hypotension), palpitations, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), breast pain (mastalgia), vaginal bleeding, absence of menstruation (amenorrhea), vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, nervousness, insomnia, mania, euphoria, and swelling (edema). Do not take panax ginseng if you are pregnant.
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