What Is the Most Common Side Effect of Ginseng?

Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2021
what is the most common side effect of ginseng
Ginseng has been used as a home remedy for a wide variety of medical conditions, but it can cause unpleasant side effects, including insomnia

Ginseng has been used as a home remedy for a wide variety of medical conditions, but it can cause unpleasant side effects. The most common side effects caused by ginseng supplements include:

Rarely, severe side effects of ginseng may include:

  • Inflammation of the arteries in the brain (cerebral arteritis)
  • Severe skin reactions (Stevens-Johnson syndrome)
  • Inflammation of the liver (cholestatic hepatitis)
  • Severe allergic reactions that may be life-threatening

Ginseng can also interfere with certain medications and cause unwanted effects in the body:

What is ginseng?

Ginseng, commonly called man root, is an herb traditionally used for its medicinal properties. There are eleven varieties of ginseng plants, and all are short and slow-growing with fleshy roots. Sometimes, other plants are mistaken for ginseng roots, but the only true ginseng plants are those that belong to the Panax genus. The plant is found in North America, China and other parts of Asia, such as Bhutan, Vietnam, and Korea.

Fresh ginseng plant root is fork-shaped with long stalks and oval-shaped, green leaves. Ginseng roots become solid once dried and are often used in this form in traditional medicine. Ginseng is often added to hair tonics, herbal tea, energy drinks, and cosmetic products.

5 common uses of ginseng

  1. Energy: Ginseng is believed to stimulate both physical and mental activity in people struggling with fatigue. In one study, ginseng improved the mobility of people with chronic fatigue.
  2. Inflammation: Studies have suggested that ginsenosides compounds in ginseng may improve immunity and reduce inflammation in some people.
  3. Cognition: According to some studies, ginseng may help treat cognitive defects and improve cognition by reducing oxidative stress. A study conducted on Alzheimer’s patients suggested that ginseng may help improve the function of the frontal lobe of the brain.
  4. Erectile dysfunction: Ginseng is believed to treat erectile dysfunction in men, but more research is required to support this claim. A study conducted on 119 men with mild-to-moderate erectile dysfunction showed that taking ginseng supplements improved overall sexual function.
  5. Blood sugar: Ginsenosides in ginseng are believed to improve insulin resistance, helping to reduce blood sugar levels and treat diabetes.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2021
References
Image Source: leungchopan / Getty Images

WebMD. Korean Ginseng. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-734/korean-ginseng-oral/details

Liu L. Side Effects of Ginseng Supplements. Poison Control. https://www.poison.org/articles/side-effects-of-ginseng-supplements-191

Kiefer D, Pantuso T. Panax Ginseng. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Oct 15;68(8):1539-1542. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/1015/p1539.html