Ginseng Side Effects, Ginseng Benefits
September 10, 2011
Ginseng Benefits and Side Effects Review
Ginseng is an herb used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. In Mandarin Chinese, the word Ginseng literally
means "root of man". It was so named because the root of this plant resembles the shape of a human body. Almost
2,000 years ago, the great Chinese medical directory stated that ginseng increased longevity. The main active
ingredients in ginseng are called ginsenosides. The higher the quantity of ginsenosides, the better the quality of the

Ginseng Benefit claims for Asian ginseng are numerous and include the use of the herb to support overall health and
boost the immune system. Benefits may include improving the health of people recovering from illness, increasing a
sense of well-being and stamina, improving both mental and physical performance, treatment erectile dysfuction,
hepatitis C, and symptoms related to menopause, and finally lowering  blood glucose and controlling blood pressure.
[C1] However, ginseng has a pile of side effects, and some people should avoid ginseng. This article focus on ginseng
side effect. For details of ginseng benefits, please, click:
ginseng benefits.

Ginseng Benefits - Overview
Giseng may have many benefits. Some people classify ginseng as an adaptogen; a substance that benefits the body
resist the effects of physical and environmental stress. Some people also claim that ginseng can increase physical
endurance under stress, improve mental alertness, memory, thinking ability or even resistance to infection. [12, 13, 15,
16] Based on the Herb Bible by Earl Mindel, PhD and Ginseng by Betty Kamen, PhD, ginseng facilitates the reduction of
cholesterol and blood pressure. Ginseng may also reduce the risk of metastasis (spread) of tumor (cancer) [14]. In
addition, ginseng may also helps protects the user from viral infection and reduced cellular oxygen. Ginseng helps
reduce discomfort caused by menopause. (?)

There are two major types of ginseng: American and Asian. Asian ginseng contains high contents of the active
ingredients, while American ginseng is mild. Siberian ginseng belongs to different family of herbs. The "ginseng" in this
article refers to Asian ginseng.

For details about Asian Ginseng Benefits, including its benefits on erectile dysfunction, physical performance, please
Asian Ginseng Benefits


Is ginseng safe?
In a 4-week-placebo-controlled study involving 77 women, no side effects were observed for the 34 subjects
supplemented with a mixture of ginseng, ginkgo, and damiana, L-arginine, multivitamins, and minerals. [9]

Forty-five patients with class IV cardiac function were divided into three groups: group I (digoxin group), group II (Red
Ginseng group) and group III (Red Ginseng plus digoxin group). After treatment, the improvement of the
hemodynamical and biochemical indexes of group II and group III were greater than those of group I, and group III was
the most significant amongst all. The results suggested that Red Ginseng and digoxin had synergism for treatment of
congestive heart failure, and Red Ginseng was an effective and safe adjuvant without any side effects. [10]

Song et al found ginsan-an important ingredient in Panax ginseng did not cause hepatic injury in their studies [11]

Ginseng side effects
When used appropriately, ginseng appears to be safe. NCCAM suggests that its use be limited to 3 months because of
concerns about the development of ginseng side effects. Ginseng potentially interacts with many drugs, we must be
more aware of its side effects and its drug interactions, and avoid long term use of ginseng supplements. The common
ginseng side effects are mental status changes [nervousness, restlessness, excited feeling, trouble sleeping,
gastrointestinal problems etc.]. Other
ginseng side effects include vaginal bleeding, mastalgia diarrhea, high blood
pressures.  However, some reported ginseng has hypotensive effects. [8] Ginseng may also cause allergic reactions.
[2,6,7] Because ginseng has side effects related to our mental states, digestive and cardiovascular systems, certain
types of people should avoid ginseng:

a. People with mental problems. A 56-year-old woman with a previous affective disorder presented a manic episode
during ginseng intake. Symptoms disappeared rapidly with low doses of neuroleptics and benzodiazepines after
ginseng suppression. [3]

b. People who are preparing for surgery. Ginseng may increase the risk of bleeding; ginseng should be discontinued
prior to dermatologic surgery to minimize the risk of surgical complications. [4,7]

c. People who drink coffee and smoke excessively. A 39-year-old female patient experienced menometrorrhagia, after a
prolonged use of oral and topical ginseng. This patient also had a habit of smoking, and drinking coffee. After stopping
smoking, drinking coffee and using ginseng products for about two weeks, she had no sign of menometrorrhagia or
tachyarrhythmia and her hemoglobin levels were in the normal range. Smoking and coffee consumption, along with
ginseng use, (or just ginseng alone) can be responsible for arrhythmogenic effects [5].

d. People who have high/low blood pressure or diabetes or those who are using medications/herbs to control blood
Ginseng may have effects on blood pressure and increase the risk of bleeding. [4,7] Ginseng may also lower
blood sugar levels. This effect may be seen more in diabetes. Thus, people with diabetes should use extra caution with
ginseng, especially if they are taking blood sugar lowering medicines or other herbs including bitter melon and

Users must consult with their doctors before taking ginseng supplements, because of its multiple side effects.

What brand is good?
The brand is very important, it determines the quality of ginseng.

Serving recommendations and other information vary among different brands of ginseng supplements. The content
does not vary much among different lots of the same brand, while the content vary widely between ginseng brands (e.g.
total ginsenosides in ginseng ranged from 5.3-18.2 mg per serving).[1]

Because the ginseng content varies from brand to brand, its doesn't mean that the most expensive one contains the
largest amount of ginseng actives. I would consider only the brands manufactured under GMP. After a few trials, if I
don't see any effects, I will change the brand.

Siberian Ginseng Benefits        

Comment from Visitors Sunday, November 28, 2010 7:53 AM
Hi  Zhion,  It  is  me  again,  On  Ginseng,  I  never  tried  this, but  I  had  a  friend  on  Maui,  and  she  was in  her  50;s
  and she  told  me  she  is  SPOTTING  and  she  could  not  figure  out why.  I  asked  her   if  she  is  taking  any  type  
of  herbals.  She told  me  yes,  gingseng,  I  said  do  NOT  ever   take  it  again,  I said  Females   should  never  take  
it,  it  will  cause  spotting. And she  stopped  and  no more  spotting.  I  told  her   I  do  lots of  reading  back  then  I  
never  even  knew  anything  about  the internet.   So  it  is  a  good  thing  she  moved  from  California  to Maui  and  
was  my  new  friend,  she  lived  next  door to  me.   So tell  all  the  gals  to  watch  out for  this  HERB  ...  I  think  it is  
only  good  for  the  men,  not  for  us  females.

My Response
This is my first time to hear this side effect of ginseng. Ginseng is not for everybody; some people have transient
hypertension after taking ginseng.  But some people like it, they say ginseng can keep them warm during the cold
winter. Thanks for your comment.

Send me an email and share your story with others:
[1] Krochmal R Phytochemical Assays of Commercial Botanical Dietary Supplements. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2004
Dec;1(3):305-313. Epub 2004 Oct 6.  [2] Boniel T et al The safety of herbal medicines in the psychiatric practice Harefuah. 2001
Aug;140(8):780-3, 805. [3] Vazquez I Herbal products and serious side effects: a case of ginseng-induced manic episode. Acta Psychiatr
Scand. 2002 Jan;105(1):76-7; discussion 77-8..[4] Chang LK et al, The impact of herbal medicines on dermatologic surgery. Dermatol
Surg. 2001 Aug;27(8):759-63. [5] Kabalak AA et al, Menometrorrhagia and tachyarrhythmia after using oral and topical ginseng. J Womens
Health (Larchmt). 2004 Nov;13(9):1071.][6] Wang ZW Observation of therapeutic effect by combined administration of Salvia miltiorrhiza,
ligustrazine and Panax notoginseng on late hemorrhagic shock of rabbits Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1997 May;17(5):292-4. [7]
Nocerino E The aphrodisiac and adaptogenic properties of ginseng Fitoterapia. 2000 Aug;71 Suppl 1:S1-5. [8] Jeon BH et al, Effect of
Korea red ginseng on the blood pressure in conscious hypertensive rats. Gen Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;35(3):135-41. [9] Ito TY et al, A
double-blind placebo-controlled study of ArginMax, a nutritional supplement for enhancement of female sexual function. J Sex Marital Ther.
2001 Oct-Dec;27(5):541-9.[10] Ding DZ Effects of red ginseng on the congestive heart failure and its mechanism Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie
He Za Zhi. 1995 Jun;15(6):325-7.[11] [11][Effects of polysaccharide ginsan from Panax ginseng on liver function. Song et al, Korea Institute
of Radiological & Medical Sciences, Korea. Arch Pharm Res. 2004 May,27(5):531-8 [12] Kaneko et al, Kaneko Heart Clinic, Proof of the
Mysterious Efficacy of Ginseng.., J Pharmacol Sci. 2004 Jun;95(2):158-62.] [13] Nishijo et. al, Proof of the meysterious efficacy of ginseng...,
J. Pharmacol Sci.2004 Jun;95(2):145-52.] [14] Effect of ginsenosides Rg3 and Rh2 on the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. Kim et al.,
Pusan National University, Korea. Arch Pharm Res. 2004 Apr; 27(4):429-35.] [15] Inteaperitoneal injection of ginseng extract enhances
both immunoglobulin and cytokine production in mice, Liou et al, Kang-Ning Junior College of Medical Care and Management, Taiwan,
China. Am J Chin Med. 2004;32(1):75-88] [16] Immunomodulating activities of polysaccharides isolated from Panax ginseng. Lim et al,
Yonsei University, Korea. J Med Food.2004 Spring;7(1):1-6.]  [C1] Asia GinSeng, NCAM, December 2005
This website discusses the benefits and side effects of various supplements, herbs and drug products. Different
people may experience different side effects and benefits of a product. You are encouraged to report adverse
side effects to FDA, its website is, or report the adverse side effects to the manufacturer, you should
be able to find the contact information on the label.

There are always new information. Please, send me an email ( to correct my mistake(s).
Reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document and the information provided herein is believed to
be accurate. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is important to
seek the advice of a physician about any medical condition or symptom or the benefits and side effects of a
supplement or a drug product. Finally, please, do not transfer the article to other website. Thank you. ALL