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HERBS: Ginseng (Asian)


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Ginseng (Asian)

Ginseng (Asian)

Scientific name

Panax ginseng

Other names

Chinese ginseng, panax, ren shen, jintsam, ninjin, Asiatic ginseng, Japanese ginseng, Oriental ginseng, Korean red ginseng

Brand name

Ginsana®, G115®, Ginsai®

Purported uses

  • To treat angina: Some laboratory studies show that Panax ginseng can increase the synthesis of nitric oxide, a vasodilator, but there is no proof from clinical trials that it can treat angina. 
  • To treat diabetes: No scientific evidence supports this use. 
  • To maintain general health: No scientific evidence supports this use. The long-term effects of Panax ginseng are not known.
  • To treat HIV and AIDS: Research in humans shows that Panax ginseng stimulates certain aspects of the immune system, and although one small clinical trial supports this use, more research is necessary.
  • To stimulate the immune system: Clinical trials support this use, although the long-term effects of Panax ginseng are still not known. 
  • To improve blood clotting: No scientific evidence supports this use. 
  • To relieve pain: No scientific evidence supports this use. 
  • To treat sexual dysfunction: One clinical trial supports the use of Panax ginseng for male erectile dysfunction.
  • To improve strength and stamina: Several clinical trials do not support this use.

Warnings

Discontinue ginseng at least one week before surgery.

Contraindications

Panax ginseng may have estrogenic activity, but data are inconsistent. Patients with hormone-sensitive disease should not consume panax ginseng.

Adverse reactions

  • Common: Usually well tolerated.
  • Reported: Dry mouth, tachycardia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and nervousness.
  • Case report: A 26 year old male with no history of mental illness became manic following chronic consumption of 250 mg panax ginseng capsules three times a day. Symptoms, including irritability, insomnia, flight of ideas, and rapid speech, resolved following discontinuation of supplement.

Drug interactions

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): Panax ginseng may cause manic-like symptoms when combined with MAOIs.
  • Insulin and sulfonylureas: Panax ginseng may increase the hypoglycemic effect of insulin and sulfonylureas.
  • Anticoagulants: Panax ginseng may antagonize the effects of anticoagulants.

References

1. Baranov AI. Medicinal uses of ginseng and related plants in the Soviet Union: recent trends in the Soviet literature. J Ethnopharmacol 1982;6:339-53.

2. Huang KC. The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs, 2nd ed. New York: CRC Press; 1999.

3. Attele AS, Wu JA, Yuan CS. Ginseng pharmacology: multiple constituents and multiple actions. Biochem Pharmacol 1999;58:1685-93.

4. Cheng TO. Panax (ginseng) is not a panacea. Arch Intern Med 2000;160:3329.

5. Nah JJ, et al. Effect of ginsenosides, active components of ginseng, on capsaicin-induced pain-related behavior. Neuropharmacology 2000;39:2180-4.

6. Shin HR, et al. The cancer-preventive potential of panax ginseng: a review of human and experimental evidence. Cancer Causes Control 2000;11:565-76.

7. Yun TK, Choi SY. Non-organ specific cancer prevention of ginseng: a prospective study in Korea. Int J Epidemiol 1998;27:359-64.

8. Cabral de Oliveira AC, et al. Protective effects of panax ginseng on muscle injury and inflammation after eccentric exercise. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol 2001;130:369-77.

9. Engelberg D, McCutcheon A, Wiseman S. A case of ginseng-induced mania. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2001;21:535-6.

10. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, 3rd ed. Sandy (OR): Eclectic Medical Publications; 2001.

11. Hall T, et al. Evaluation of consistency of standardized Asian ginseng products in the ginseng evaluation program. Herbalgram 2001;52:31-45.

12. Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Wesnes KA. Modulation of cognition and mood following administration of single doses of Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and a ginkgo/ginseng combination to healthy young adults. Physiol Behav 2002;75:739-51.

13. Lim DS, et al. Anti-septicaemic effect of polysaccharide from Panax ginseng by macrophage activation. J Infect 2002;45:32-8.

14. Hong, B, et al. A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: a preliminary report. J Urol 2002;168:2070-3.

15. Ang-lee M, et al. Herbal medicines and perioperative care. JAMA 2001;286:208-16.

16. Vogler BK, Pittler MH, Ernst E. The efficacy of ginseng. A systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1999;55:567-75.

17. Cho YK, et al. Long-term intake of Korean red ginseng in HIV-1-infected patients: development of resistance mutation to zidovudine is delayed. Int Immunopharmacol 2001;1:1295-305.

18. Cardinal BJ, Engels HJ. Ginseng does not enhance psychological well-being in healthy, young adults: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. J Am Diet Assoc 2001;101:655-60.

19. Scaglione F, et al. Efficacy and safety of the standardized ginseng extract G115 for potentiating vaccination against common cold and-or influenza syndrome. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1996;22:65-72.

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