It has been difficult to verify the medicinal benefits of ginseng using modern science. Frequently, there are contradictory results from different studies. Supporters claim that this is due to the wide variety of ginseng quality used in studies. The quality and neutrality of studies from East Asia have also been questioned. Another issue is the profit potential of corporate research since ginseng cannot be patented. As a result, quality studies into the effects of ginseng are rare. Ironically, one of the better studies involving ginseng actually uses a proprietary formula of ginseng [1]

Ginseng is highly prized as an adaptogen (a product that does no harm, but increases the body's resistance to stress). Unfortunately, this property is extremely difficult to prove scientifically as well.

A comparative, randomized and double-blind government study does indicate it to be "a promising dietary supplement" when assessed for an increase in quality of life[2].

Panax ginseng appear to inhibit some characteristics associated with cancer in animal models; nevertheless, this effect is unclear in humans [3].

Ginseng's most common side effects are nervousness and excitability, which usually decrease after the first few days. The ability to concentrate may be decreased, and blood sugar may decrease to abnormally low levels (causing hypoglycemia). Because ginseng has an estrogen-like effect, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take it, nor should children. Occasionally, there have been reports of more serious side effects, such as asthma attacks, increased blood pressure, palpitations, and, in postmenopausal women, uterine bleeding. To many people, ginseng tastes unpleasant.

Ginseng can interact with anticoagulants, aspirin (ECOTRIN, ASPERGUM), other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, digoxin (LANOXIN), estrogen replacement therapy, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs—used to treat depression), and drugs that decrease blood sugar levels (hypoglycemic drugs, used to treat diabetes).


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