ginseng monograph


Ginseng types  

American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), both Asian and American ginseng have ginsenosides,. Asian ginseng supplements are made from the ginseng root, and the long, thin offshoots, called root hairs. Both Asian or Korean and American ginseng have ginsenosides, saponins that are ginseng’s active ingredients. Asian ginseng also contains glycans (panaxans), polysaccharide fraction DPG-3-2, peptides, maltol, B vitamins, flavonoids, and volatile oil.


  • Type 2 diabetes -the ginsenosides in American ginseng might lower blood sugar while different ginsenosides in Asian ginseng could raise blood sugar levels
  • Mental performance-Asian ginseng may slightly improve thinking or learning. Early research shows that Asian ginseng may improve performance on such things as mental arithmetic, concentration, memory, and other measures. Some studies have also found a positive effect with the combination of Asian ginseng and Ginkgo biloba.
  • Fertility/erectile dysfunction -Asian ginseng is widely believed to boost sexual performance, but there aren’t many studies to back this up. In animal studies, Asian ginseng has increased sperm production, sexual activity, and sexual performance
  • those who took 900 mg of Korean ginseng 3 times per day for 8 weeks had less trouble getting an erection than those who took placebo.
  • Cancer -Several studies suggest that Asian ginseng may reduce the risk of some types of cancers. In one observational study, researchers followed 4,634 people for 5 years and found that those who took ginseng had lower risk of lung, liver, pancreatic, ovarian, and stomach cancer




In males, of the important chemicals released during sex is nitric oxide. According to a study conducted at John’s Hopkins, nitric oxide acts as a “chemical mediator” that affects erections. How is this related to ginseng? Well, it seems to be that Asian ginseng has a positive effect on nitric oxide. A team at the Southern Illinois School of Medicine did an experiment involving ginseng on laboratory animals to see if it changed their sexual behavior and the presence of nitric oxide. In their published report, they stated that ginsenoside components affected levels of nitric oxide that resulted in erectile improvement. That has positive implications for its use in humans.

A typical dosage is about 0.5 to 2 grams dry root daily, or 200 to 600 ml liquid extract daily.

Be careful to avoid taking ginseng in larger doses than recommended, or simultaneously with other stimulants such as tea, coffee, or MAO inhibitors (anti-depressants). Diabetics should also be cognizant of ginseng’s potential to lower blood sugar, and take that into consideration when administering insulin or eating

pregnant or breast-feeding women should probably not take ginseng, as effects are unknown.

Typical side effects include headaches, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset like diarrhea or vomiting, breast tenderness, menstrual irregularities, high blood pressure, and skin eruptions

active chemical compounds, called ginsenosides or panaxosides, contained mostly in the root, but also in the leaves and seeds of the plant.

the panaxoside Rb-1 acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, having a stress-reducing effect with anticonvulsant, analgesic, and antipsychotic properties. But panaxoside Rg-1 is stimulating to the CNS, serving to ward off fatigue, increase performance, and possibly turn you on.

How to Take It


Don’t give ginseng to a child.

in healthy people who want to boost physical or mental performance, prevent illness, or better resist stress, Asian ginseng should be taken in cycles. For example, take every day for 2 – 3 weeks, then stop for 3 weeks, then start back.


Asian ginseng may cause nervousness or sleeplessness, especially if taken at high doses or combined with caffeine.

Other side effects are rare but may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Euphoria
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Nosebleed
  • Breast pain
  • Vaginal bleeding

To avoid hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, even in people without diabetes, take Asian ginseng with food.

People with high blood pressure should not take Asian ginseng products without their doctor’s supervision. People with low blood pressure, as well as those who are sick, should use caution when taking it.

People with bipolar disorder should not take ginseng, because it may increase the risk of mania.

People with autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or Crohn’s disease, should ask their doctors before taking Asian ginseng. Theoretically, Asian ginseng may boost an already overactive immune system

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take Asian ginseng. Asian ginseng may cause vaginal bleeding.

Stop taking Asian ginseng at least 7 days prior to surgery. Asian ginseng may act as a blood thinner, increasing the risk of bleeding during or after a procedure.

Possible Interactions

If you are currently taking any of the following medications, you should not use Asian ginseng without first talking to your health care provider:

  • ACE inhibitors (blood pressure medications) — Asian ginseng may interact with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors used to lower high blood pressure. These medications include:
  • Calcium channel blockers (heart and blood pressure medications) — Asian ginseng may make certain heart medications, including calcium channel blockers, work differently than intended. These medications include:
  • Blood-thinners (anticoagulants and antiplatelets) — Asian ginseng may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you already take blood-thinners such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), or clopidogrel (Plavix).
  • Caffeine — Ginseng may make the effect of caffeine stronger, possibly causing nervousness, sweating, insomnia, or irregular heartbeat.
  • Diabetes medications, including insulin — Ginseng may lower blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system — Asian ginseng may boost the immune system and may interact with drugs taken to treat an autoimmune disease or drugs taken after organ transplant.
  • Stimulants — Ginseng may increase the stimulant effect and side effects of some medications take for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, including amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) and methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin).
  • MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) — Ginseng may increase the risk of mania when taken with MAOIs, a kind of antidepressant. There have been reports of interaction between ginseng and phenelzine (Nardil) causing headaches, tremors, and mania. MAOIs include:
  • Morphine — Asian ginseng may block the painkilling effects of morphine.
  • Furosemide (Lasix) — Some researchers think Asian ginseng may interfere with Lasix, a diuretic (water pill) that helps the body get rid of excess fluid.
  • Other medications — Asian ginseng may interact with medications that are broken down by the liver. To be safe, if you take any medications, ask your doctor before taking Asian ginseng.



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