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HERBS: Ginseng (American)


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Ginseng (American)

Ginseng (American)

Scientific name

Panax quinquefolius

Other names

Xi yang shen, Tienchi ginseng, western ginseng, five-fingers

Purported uses

  • To improve athletic performance: No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To prevent and treat cancer: No scientific evidence supports this use. 
  • To treat diabetes: A handful of studies show a blood glucose-lowering effect of American ginseng in humans, but there is not enough evidence to support replacing diabetes medications with American ginseng.
  • To stimulate the immune system: Some studies show an immunostimulant effect in animals. There is no proof from clinical trials that this effect occurs in humans.
  • For increased strength and stamina: Although ginseng is often promoted for this use, there is no proof from clinical trials that this effect occurs in humans.

Adverse reactions

No significant reactions reported

Drug interactions

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

References

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

2. Vuksan V, et al. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L) reduces postprandial glycemia in nondiabetic subjects and subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Arch Intern Med 2000;160:1009-13.

3. 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.

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

5. Chen SE. American ginseng. III. Pharmacokinetics of ginsenosides in the rabbit. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 1980;5:161-8.

6. Vuksan V, et al. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) attenuates postprandial glycemia in a time-dependent but not dose-dependent manner in healthy individuals. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:753-8.

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

8. Vuksan V, et al. American ginseng improves glycemia in individuals with normal glucose tolerance: effect of dose and time escalation. J Am Coll Nutr 2000;6:738-44.

9. Amato P, Christophe S, Mellon PL. Estrogenic activity of herbs commonly used as remedies for menopausal symptoms. Menopause 2002;9:145-50.

10. Assinewe VA, et al. Extractable polysaccharides of Panax quinquefolius L. (North American ginseng) root stmulate TNFalpha production by alveolar macrophages. Phytomedicine 2002;9:398-404.

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Overview of Herbs | Alfalfa | Aloe Vera | Burdock | Capsaicin | Cascara | Chamomile | Chaparral | Comfrey | Echinacea | Garlic | Ginger | Ginseng (Asian) | Ginseng (American) | Gotu Kola | Hawthorn | Licorice | Ephedra | Milk Thistle | Sassafras | Blue-Green Algae