|Description||Ginseng is extracted from the root of several different species of the Panax group of plants from East Asia (Panax Ginseng and Panax Japonicus) and North America (Panax quinquefolius), and has been used medicinally for more than 2000 years.
Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not considered to be true ginseng because it is not a species of the genus Panax. However, it is often promoted alongside Asian and American ginseng supplements.
|Function/ Used for||Used through the ages as a tonic, ginseng helps with stamina and stress resistance and is often referred to as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help the body to adapt to prevailing situations which could be stressful.
Traditionally, people have claimed ginseng to be useful for memory and mental function, improving libido and sexual vigour, regulating blood pressure, preventing diabetes and improving immunity3.
|As a supplement||Ginseng can be found in tablets and capsules, as well as in standardised extracts.
Short term (up to 20 days): 0.5-1g root daily.
Long term: 0.4-0.8g root daily.
Some experts recommend that people stop taking ginseng for one week every month and then resume their regular dose.1,2
|Found in (dietary sources)||N/A|
|Precautions and contraindications||Ginseng is generally contraindicated in acute infections with fever and should be used with caution by people with cardiovascular disease including hypertension (high blood pressure); diabetes; asthma; schizophrenia; and disorders of the nervous system.1,3|
|Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding||Not suitable for use if pregnant or breast-feeding.|
|Interactions e.g. with other medications||Not to be taken if taking warfarin (an anti-coagulant), digoxin (used to treat heart conditions), tranquillisers or anti- depressants.1|
|Adverse effects||Overuse may result in headaches, insomnia, and palpitations.1|
|References||1. Braun & Cohen. Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide. Churchill Livingstone, 2005.
2. Williamson, E. M. Potter’s Herbal Cyclopaedia. C.W. Daniel Co Ltd. 2003
3. Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.