Korean ginseng is one of the oldest known plants used for natural medicine. The roots of this Asian plant have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years and are still commonly used by practitioners today for health purposes. Although Korean ginseng has been widely studied, results have not yet been conclusive to support the many proposed health benefits associated with this herb and further investigation is still needed. Some researchers believe that Korean ginseng may be able to improve memory and thinking skills in middle-aged and older people, especially when combined with another herb called ginkgo biloba. Another potential benefit of Korean ginseng is it may boost immune function to help fight off viruses like the common cold. In one study, people who took 400 milligrams of ginseng daily for four months got fewer colds. In those that did get colds, Korean ginseng seemed to reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms. In addition, some research suggests that Korean ginseng has an "energizing" effect and may improve a person's overall energy level and sense of well-being. Some researchers also believe that Korean ginseng supplements may be beneficial for men with erectile dysfunction (inability to have or maintain an erection). Therefore, it may be able to improve sexual function in some men with erection problems. There's no evidence that Korean ginseng has any effect on sexual function in women.
Does Korean Ginseng Have Side Effects?
The majority of people taking Korean ginseng experience few or no side effects. Side effects that do occur are usually mild. Because it's energizing in nature, taking it can make it harder to sleep. Other possible side effects include nervousness, changes in blood pressure, headache or stomach upset. It's also possible to be allergic to Korean ginseng. In women, Korean ginseng seems to mimic some of the effects of the hormone estrogen. Therefore it may not be safe for women who have a history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer or cancer of the uterus. Avoid using Korean ginseng if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. It may not be safe for people with high blood pressure, bipolar disorder or autoimmune disorders. Asian ginseng should be taken with food since it may lower blood sugar and be used with caution in those with diabetes. Because of the potential for side effects, it's best to talk to your doctor before taking Korean ginseng or any other herbs, especially if you are taking medications. Korean ginseng can interact with other herbs and prescription drugs and this can increase the risk for 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.