Skip to Content

Generic Name: ginseng (GIN seng)
Brand Name:

What is ginseng?

Ginseng is an herb also known as Anchi Ginseng, Baie Rouge, Canadian Ginseng, Ginseng à Cinq Folioles, Ginseng Américain, Ginseng Americano, Ginseng Root, North American Ginseng, Occidental Ginseng, Ontario Ginseng, Panax Quinquefolia, Racine de Ginseng, Red Berry, Ren Shen, Sang, Shang, Shi Yang Seng, Xi Yang Shen and other names.

Ginseng has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in lowering blood sugar after a meal in patients with diabetes type 2, and for respiratory infections.

Ginseng has also been used to improve athletic performance. However, research has shown that ginseng may not be effective in treating this condition.

Other uses not proven with research have included attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), breast cancer, cancer related fatigue, menopausal symptoms, memory loss, anemia, insomnia, bleeding disorders, digestive disorders and other conditions.

It is not certain whether ginseng is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Ginseng should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Ginseng is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Ginseng may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.

What is the most important information I should know about ginseng?

Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Slideshow: 18 Herbal Supplements with Risky Drug Interactions

Herbal and Dietary Supplements Deserve Your Attention

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking ginseng?

Before using ginseng, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use ginseng if you have certain medical conditions.

Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product if you have:

  • diabetes;

  • hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrioses or uterine fibroids;

  • insomnia;

  • a mental disorder such as schizophrenia; or

  • an upcoming surgery.

Ginseng is considered likely unsafe to use during pregnancy.

It is not known whether ginseng passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.

How should I take ginseng?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use ginseng, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Do not use different formulations of ginseng (such as tablets, liquids, and others) at the same time, unless specifically directed to do so by a health care professional. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.

Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with ginseng does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.

If you need surgery or dental work, stop taking ginseng at least 2 weeks ahead of time.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra ginseng to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking ginseng?

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Avoid using ginseng together with other herbal/health supplements that can lower blood sugar, such as alpha-lipoic acid, chromium, devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, psyllium, and others.

Ginseng side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, ginseng is thought to be likely safe for most people, when taken by mouth for a short period of time.

Stop using ginseng and call your healthcare provider at once if you have:

  • severe skin reaction--fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Common side effects may include:

  • diarrhea;

  • insomnia;

  • headache;

  • rapid heartbeat;

  • increased or decreased blood pressure;

  • breast tenderness and vaginal bleeding.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect ginseng?

Other drugs may interact with ginseng, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Do not take ginseng without medical advice if you are using any of the following medications:

  • any medicine for diabetes;

  • warfarin (Coumadin);

  • medicine for depression; or

  • immunosuppressants such as azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), and other corticosteroids (glucocorticoids).

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with ginseng, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.

Where can I get more information?

  • Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.01. Revision Date: 2015-08-03, 11:04:10 AM.

Hide