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Asian Ginseng

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This fact sheet provides basic information about Asian ginseng—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.

 

Common Names:  Asian ginseng, Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng, Asiatic ginseng, Oriental ginseng

Latin Name: 
Panax ginseng

Background

  • Asian ginseng is native to the Far East, including China and Korea, and has been used for health-related purposes for at least 2,000 years. Asian ginseng is one of several types of ginseng (another is American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius). The terms red ginseng and white ginseng refer to Asian ginseng roots prepared in two different ways. The herb called Siberian ginseng or eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not related to true ginseng.
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, Asian ginseng was used as a tonic that was believed to replenish energy. Today, Asian ginseng is used as a dietary supplement to improve general well-being, physical stamina, and concentration; stimulate immune function; slow the aging process; and relieve various health problems such as respiratory disorders, cardiovascular disorders, depression, anxiety, erectile dysfunction, and menopausal hot flashes.
  • The root of Asian ginseng contains chemical components called ginsenosides (or panaxosides) that are thought to contribute to the herb’s claimed health-related properties.

How Much Do We Know?

  • There have been many studies of Asian ginseng in people, but few have been high quality. Therefore, our understanding of Asian ginseng’s health effects is limited.

What Have We Learned?

  • There’s currently no conclusive evidence supporting any health benefits of Asian ginseng.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • Short-term use of Asian ginseng in recommended amounts appears to be safe for most people. However, questions have been raised about its long-term safety, and some experts recommend against its use by infants, children, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • The most common side effects of ginseng are headaches, sleep problems, and digestive problems.
  • Some evidence suggests that Asian ginseng might affect blood sugar and blood pressure. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, consult your health care provider before using Asian ginseng.
  • The risk of interactions between ginseng and medications is believed to be low, but there are uncertainties about whether ginseng might interact with certain medications, such as the anticoagulant (blood thinner) warfarin (Coumadin). If you’re taking medication, consult your health care provider before using Asian ginseng.

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

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PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset

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Key References

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.
NCCIH Publication No.: 
D284
Updated: 
September 2016

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.


NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advise of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

nccih.nih.gov

This page last modified November 29, 2016