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Information about Ginseng

Ginseng is a popular herbal medication and extract derived from the roots of a perennial plant (Panax ginseng) found mostly in China, Korea and Siberia.  Ginseng is used is to promote health and improve wellness, as well as to treat stress and as a mild stimulant.

Liver safety of Ginseng

Ginseng has not been implicated in causing liver injury although it may have the potential of causing significant herb-drug interactions that can lead to liver injury.

Mechanism of action of Ginseng

Ginseng (jin' seng) is a widely used herbal derived from the roots of eleven distinct species of plants belonging to the genus Panax and family Araliaceae.  Ginseng grows in the Northern Hemisphere in eastern Asia, mostly China, Korea and Siberia.  The form of ginseng most commonly used is Asian (or Chinese) ginseng made from the dried roots of Panax ginseng.  American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has similar properties.  The word ginseng derives from the Chinese character “rénshen” meaning “man root”, which refers to the ginseng root’s characteristic forked shape.  The botanical name Panax is derived from the Greek word meaning “all-heal” as in the term panacea.  Ginseng is taken promote health and healing, as an adaptogen (to treat stress and enhance recovery from illness), aphrodisiac (to aid in sexual desire and performance) and a stimulant (wakefulness and mental acuity).  Ginseng is also claimed to lower blood glucose levels and to be beneficial in diabetes.  Ginseng is found in energy drinks as well as in many cosmetic preparations.  The scientific bases for the purported effects of ginseng are not well established.  Ginseng contains 30 different triterpene saponins, referred to as ginsenosides and panaxosides, which are considered the active compounds and which have antioxidant and stimulatory activities.  Commercial preparations of ginseng vary widely in ginsenoside content (some have none at all), which may cause variation in their biologic effects. 

Dosage and administration for Ginseng

The recommended daily dose varies widely (100 to >1,000 mg daily), depending on the preparation used (capsules, tablets, liquid, root extract, tea) and indications. 

Side effects of Ginseng

Side effects of ginseng are uncommon and mild, and include inability to sleep, nausea, morning diarrhea, headaches and nose bleeds.

Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements

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