Ginseng refers to a plant that grows in North America and Eastern Asia which contains the active chemical compounds ginsenosides and gintonin. It has been a vital component of traditional Chinese medicinal practices for centuries.

It’s to be found being sold commercially in over 35 countries around the world and you are able to buy it cheaply and affordably through online pharmacies. It will usually be found available in dried form either wholly, sliced, or in powder/pill form. You may also come across it in herbal teas, energy drinks, and specialty brews such as ginseng coffee. The leaf is not considered as potent as the stem and roots and so will rarely be made use of in such formulations.

Ginseng is attributed with various benefits to the human body when taken orally, such as enhancing libido, boosting the immune system to better fight disease and infection, as well as strengthening a person’s ability to resist mental fatigue and stress.

Side effects and interactions

Some sources might tell you that ginseng is not responsible for any side effects, but you should never forget that everybody’s body system will react uniquely to certain combinations of stimuli. Be on the safe side and consult with your physician should any of these more common symptoms present themselves with increasing severity and persistence:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nervousness
  • Agitation
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Headaches

Should any of the following severe side effects present themselves at all, medical attention should be sought immediately:

  • Severe allergic reactions characterized by hives; itching; chest tightness; rashes; as well as swelling of the mouth, lips, face, or tongue.
  • Vaginal hemorrhage (bleeding)

This list of side effects is not universally comprehensive and so any user of ginseng, or any drug for that matter, should keep an eye on their condition in order to readily identify and react if necessary to any unexpected side-effects.

Ginseng has been found to interact negatively with warfarin and phenelzine. Additionally, it has been shown to reduce blood alcohol levels in those who take it. In patients suffering from depression, it may lead to the induction of mania when taken in combination with antidepressants. The prudent thing, as always, will be to inform your doctor of your taking ginseng before you start, stop, or change the dosage of any medication you take.


Some conditions may rule out ginseng as being unsuitable for use. Refer to your doctor or pharmacist’s advice regarding the viability of using ginseng especially if you fall under any of the following categories;

  • if you have known allergies towards any foods, medicines, or other substances
  • if you are taking any diuretics such as furosemide or bumetanide
  • if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding a baby
  • if you have a history of low or high blood pressure, estrogen-dependent cancer, heart problems, diabetes, or if you are currently under a fever
  • if you are currently taking any herbal preparations, prescription or non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements

Ginseng has a generally good safety record especially when one considers how long it has been in use among people. Any adverse effects attributed to it have been mild and short-lived for the most part.

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