Ginseng is a general name for a family of herbs that are often used as folk remedies. The most commonly used variety is Korean ginseng. It is also known as Asian ginseng, Chinese ginseng and Panax ginseng. Another type is American ginseng. Some people believe that Korean ginseng is an adaptogen. This means it contains chemicals that counteract some of the effects of stress on the body. However, scientists haven't found evidence that adaptogens exist. So far, there is no proof that Korean ginseng root is beneficial for any medicinal purpose. Based on initial research findings, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database lists it as "possibly effective" for improving thinking and memory in adults, lowering high blood sugar levels in diabetics, improving symptoms of impotence (inability to achieve or maintain an erection) and premature ejaculation (reaching a sexual climax too quickly) and reducing the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (diseases that affect the lungs).
Ginseng and Your Health
Walgreens carries many types of Korean ginseng products that can be used for herbal remedies including capsules and tea. Keep in mind that some products may combine the herb with other herbs or vitamins. Read labels with care and always know exactly what you are taking. In studies, Korean ginseng has not been shown to cause major health risks when used for three months or less. However, it can result in minor side effects like insomnia (trouble sleeping), changes in appetite, stomach upset and changes in mood. The herb does have the potential to cause more severe, rare reactions. These include life-threatening rashes, vaginal bleeding and changes in heart rate and blood pressure. Children and pregnant and nursing women should not take Korean ginseng. If you have diabetes, heart problems, insomnia, schizophrenia, have recently undergone an organ transplant or have any condition that is worsened by or caused by estrogen like breast cancer, do not take Korean ginseng. The herb has the potential to thin the blood. This means you should not use it if you are at risk for excessive bleeding due to taking blood thinners or having a blood clotting disorder. Do not take Korean ginseng if you are on any of the following medications or herbs: bitter orange, caffeine, country mallow, ephedra, furosemide, insulin and certain drugs for depression, diabetes, stimulating the body and suppressing the immune system. Before taking Korean ginseng, talk to your doctor about any possible health risks. Remember that there are other types of ginseng supplements on the market, and these have their own risks and side effects.
This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of purity, strength, or safety of the products. As a result, effects may vary. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking a supplement as supplements may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking a supplement. Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects.