Panax ginseng is a plant that grows in Korea, China, and Siberia. It's considered an adaptogen, which are natural substances that are believed to stimulate the body's resistance to stressors. Panax ginseng contains many active chemicals. The most important are called ginsenosides or panaxosides.
Panax ginseng is taken by mouth for memory and thinking skills, Alzheimer disease, depression, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
Don't confuse Panax ginseng with other plants sometimes referred to as ginseng like American ginseng, Blue Cohosh, Canaigre, Codonopsis, Eleuthero, or Panax Notoginseng. These are different plants with different effects.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Taking Panax ginseng by mouth might improve thinking, arithmetic skills, and reaction times in healthy, middle-aged people but not in young adults. Taking panax ginseng alone doesn't seem to help memory, but taking it with ginkgo leaf extract seems to improve memory in healthy people between the ages of 38 and 66.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED). Taking Panax ginseng by mouth seems to improve sexual function in adults with ED.
- Flu (influenza). Taking a specific Panax ginseng extract by mouth appears to reduce the risk of getting a cold or the flu. But it doesn't seem to reduce flu symptoms or the length of the illness.
- Fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Taking Panax ginseng by mouth daily for 3 months reduces feelings of tiredness and improves quality of life in females with MS.
- Increasing response to sexual stimuli in healthy people. Taking Panax ginseng alone or with other ingredients by mouth seems to improve sexual arousal and satisfaction in postmenopausal adults. It also seems to improve sexual desire in females who report sexual problems.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Athletic performance. Taking Panax ginseng by mouth for up to 8 weeks doesn't improve athletic performance.
When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if Panax ginseng is safe. It might cause side effects such as irritation and burning.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if Panax ginseng is safe to use when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Children: Panax ginseng is likely unsafe in infants and children. Panax ginseng has been linked to fatal poisoning in newborns. It's not clear if it's safe in older children. Until more is known, do not use Panax ginseng in children.
"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Panax ginseng seems to increase the activity of the immune system. It might make auto-immune diseases worse. Don't use Panax ginseng if you have any auto-immune condition.
Bleeding conditions: Panax ginseng seems to interfere with blood clotting. Don't use Panax ginseng if you have a bleeding condition.
Heart conditions: Panax ginseng can affect heart rhythm and blood pressure slightly on the first day it is used. Use Panax ginseng with caution if you have heart disease.
Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Panax ginseng contains chemicals (ginsenosides) that can act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use Panax ginseng.
Trouble sleeping (insomnia): High doses of Panax ginseng have been linked with insomnia. If you have trouble sleeping, use Panax ginseng with caution.
Suppressed immune system: Panax ginseng might make the immune system more active. This could interfere with the effects of medications that suppress the immune system, such as those given after an organ transplant. If your immune system is suppressed, don't use Panax ginseng.
Schizophrenia: High doses of Panax ginseng have been linked with sleep problems and agitation in people with schizophrenia. Be careful when using Panax ginseng if you have schizophrenia.
Alcohol interacts with PANAX GINSENG
The body breaks down alcohol to get rid of it. Taking Panax ginseng might increase how fast your body gets rid of alcohol.
Caffeine interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Caffeine can speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, caffeine can make you feel jittery and speed up your heartbeat. Panax ginseng might also speed up the nervous system. Taking Panax ginseng along with caffeine might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking caffeine along with Panax ginseng.
Furosemide (Lasix) interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Some scientists think that Panax ginseng might decrease how well furosemide (Lasix) works. But there isn't enough information to know if this is a big concern.
Insulin interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Panax ginseng might decrease blood sugar. Insulin is also used to decrease blood sugar. Taking Panax ginseng along with insulin might cause your blood sugar to be too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your insulin might need to be changed.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Panax ginseng might slow blood clotting. Taking Panax ginseng along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Panax ginseng might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking Panax ginseng along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates) interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Panax ginseng might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking Panax ginseng along with some medications that are changed by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking Panax ginseng talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Panax ginseng increases the immune system. By increasing the immune system, Panax ginseng might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
Medications for depression (MAOIs) interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Panax ginseng might stimulate the body. Some medications used for depression can also stimulate the body. Taking Panax ginseng with these medications used for depression might cause too much stimulation. This might cause side effects such as anxiousness, headache, restlessness, and insomnia.
Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.
Stimulant drugs interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and speed up your heartbeat. Panax ginseng might also speed up the nervous system. Taking Panax ginseng along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with Panax ginseng.
Some stimulant drugs include diethylpropion (Tenuate), epinephrine, phentermine (Ionamin), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and many others.
Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with PANAX GINSENG
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. There is some concern that Panax ginseng might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). But it's not clear if this interaction is a big problem. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Be cautious with this combination
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.