Ginseng Side Effects

Though it is considered safe, ginseng may cause certain adverse effects in some users. This article provides some information about the side effects of this herb.
HolisticZine Staff
Ginseng is one of the important herbs used in the traditional Chinese medicine. It has also been used by the Native Americans, through the centuries. While the Chinese used oriental (Asian) ginseng (Panax ginseng), the Native Americans were familiar with American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium). The third type called the Siberian ginseng, is a close relative of the oriental ginseng, and is also used for therapeutic purposes. Even today, this herb is highly popular, and is used across the globe. Ginseng is used as an immune system booster, as a stimulant and as an aphrodisiac. This herb is also used for treating various medical conditions.

Side Effects

Ginseng is considered a safe herb, if used in correct doses. However, adulterated products can be ineffective, and sometimes cause adverse effects too. Ginseng side effects are often associated with prolonged usage, high doses, interaction with other drugs, and reactions in people with underlying medical conditions. The most common side effects are nervousness, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal pain, loss of concentration, insomnia, heaviness in the chest, skin rash, edema, and digestive disorders. It may cause low blood sugar levels in some people, whereas some others may experience hypertension. It has also been reported that, some of the users experienced asthma attacks, after taking ginseng.

While the Asian and American ginseng can cause side effects, like insomnia, restlessness, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding from the nose, breast pain, and vaginal bleeding; Siberian ginseng may cause nervousness, insomnia and diarrhea. The latter may also cause chest pain, breathing problems and skin rash. Siberian variety is also associated with some rare side effects, like rapid heartbeats, muscle spasms, and high blood pressure. The following are some of the causes for ginseng side effects.

High Dosage: Like many other herbs, ginseng must be used in proper dosages. You have to use it in correct doses, if you want the herb to be effective. Overdose is said to be one of the main causes for the side effects of ginseng. Adverse effects, like nervousness and insomnia, are often associated with high doses of the herb. As most of these symptoms are not life-threatening, they are usually ignored; but in the long run, they may prove detrimental to the health of the user.

Allergies and Medical Conditions: Some people can be allergic to ginseng, and use of the herb may trigger allergic reactions in them. It is considered that, severe asthma attacks in some of the users, could be due to this problem. Shooting up of blood pressure may also be treated as an allergic response to ginseng. People, who are already on medication to treat diseases, like diabetes and high or low blood pressure, should not take this herb. Use of ginseng may cause a drop in the estrogen level in pregnant and lactating mothers. As this herb can trigger bleeding, it is always safe to avoid it, before and after surgeries. It is also recommended that, people with mental problems should not use ginseng, which may complicate their condition.

Interference with Other Drugs: Some of the side effects of ginseng are caused due to the interaction of the herb with prescription medicines. This herb may interfere with drugs that are administered to treat medical conditions, like diabetes and low or high blood pressure. It can also interact with some blood-thinning drugs. It can cause dangerous side effects, if taken along with antidepressants and anti-inflammatory drugs.

In short, ginseng can cause side effects, if consumed along with certain prescription medicines, or if used by people affected with some medical conditions. Adverse reactions may develop, if the herb is taken in high doses, that too for long durations. Ginseng should not be given to children. Seek the advice of your health care provider, before starting any treatment using ginseng. Always try to get unadulterated products and adhere to the prescribed doses. Discontinue its use, if you experience any side effect or if the prescribed duration is over. In some cases, the side effects may subside within a few days of use, but it is advisable to consult your physician, once you experience the symptoms. If the symptoms are severe, seek medical attention immediately.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.