Report on Ginseng Side Effects and Usage


Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Ginseng (Panax Ginseng, P. quinquefolia). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 – Contraindications: Pregnancy, lactation, and any form of hemorrhage.

Warning 2 – Antibiotics: Siberian ginseng may increase the action of the antibiotic kanamycin (trade name Kantrex).

Warning 3 – Anticoagulants: Ginseng may decrease the action of anticoagulants.

Warning 4 – Anticonvulsants: Ginseng may provide an additive anticonvulsant action when used concurrently.

Warning 5 – Antidiabetics: Ginseng may increase the hypoglycemic effects of oral antidiabetics.

Warning 6 – Immunosuppressants: May diminish the effect of immunosuppressants. Experts recommend avoiding use before, during, or after transplant surgery.

Warning 7 – Insulin: May increase the hypoglycemic effects of insulin.

Warning 8 – MAOIs: Concurrent use may result in manic-like syndrome.

Warning 9 – Stimulants: Using stimulants with ginseng may result in overstimulation – not recommended.

Warning 10 – Cardiac glycosides: Siberian ginseng may increase levels of cardiac glycosides. Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Used as a natural health remedy: Ginseng is used internally for the following benefits and conditions:

  • aphrodisiac
  • diet aid (See other herbs for weight loss)
  • energizer
  • Improvement in well-being
  • Impotence
  • Reduces cravings for sweets
  • Relieve the stress of menopause
  • Relieve some symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal
  • Revitalizer
  • Saponins found in ginseng (ginsenosides) aid digestion

Side Effects of Ginseng

  1. Breast tenderness
  2. Changes in blood pressure
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Hypotension
  5. Hypertension
  6. Headache
  7. Nervousness
  8. Insomnea
  9. Excitation
  10. Rapid heartbeat
  11. Estrogenic effect in women
  12. Vaginal bleeding

Other side effects may also occur when using Ginseng. (See form below)

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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