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There are various types of ginseng commonly available, including American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). However, Siberian ginseng is not actually a true ginseng. Asian ginseng can be found in China and Korea, and has been used for various health purposes for many centuries.
How is this product usually used?
The roots of Asian ginseng contain ginsenosides (also called panaxosides) – an active chemical – that is believed to provide the medicinal characters of these herbs. The root part of the plants is dried and made into tablets, teas, creams, and other products for consumption or topical use.
What is this product used for?
There are many claimed benefits of Asian ginseng, such as strengthening the immune system and promoting good health. Some uses of ginseng include:
- promoting recovery in people with illness and discomfort
- improving stamina, energy, and physical performance
- treating various conditions such as hepatitis, sexual dysfunction (in men), high blood pressure
- managing menopausal symptoms
- improving blood sugar control
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What else should I be aware of?
There have been some large, well-conducted trials and a variety of smaller laboratory research studies looking into the actual benefits of Asian ginseng. However, the evidence does not strongly support the claimed benefits for the plant.
Currently there are studies looking into Asian ginseng’s potential role in treating insulin resistance, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Short-term use of ginseng at recommended doses appears to be safe for most people. However, some sources suggest that prolonged use might cause side effects. You should consult with your health care provider before using this product.
The most commonly reported side effects are headaches, gastrointestinal problems (such as stomach upset), and sleep difficulties. Ginseng can also cause allergic reactions.
There have been reports of ginseng-containing products causing breast tenderness, menstrual irregularities, and high blood pressure. However, as these products’ ingredients were not analyzed, the side effects may be due to another herb or drug in the product.
Asian ginseng has the potential to decrease blood sugar, which can occur more frequently if you have diabetes. Therefore, people with diabetes should use extra caution with Asian ginseng, especially if they are already taking blood-glucose-lowering drugs, or other natural health products such as bitter melon and fenugreek, that may also cause low sugar levels.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Herbs at a Glance. Asian Ginseng. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/asianginseng/