Asian Ginseng

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Asian Ginseng
This fact sheet provides basic information about the herb Asian
ginseng—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources
for more information. Asian ginseng is native to China and Korea and
has been used in various systems of medicine for many centuries.
Asian ginseng is one of several types of true ginseng (another is
American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius). An herb called Siberian
ginseng or eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not a
true ginseng.

Common Names—Asian ginseng, ginseng, Chinese ginseng,
Korean ginseng, Asiatic ginseng

Latin Name—Panax ginseng

What It Is Used For
Treatment claims for Asian ginseng are numerous and include the use
of the herb to support overall health and boost the immune system.
Traditional and modern uses of ginseng include:
 Improving the health of people recovering from illness
 Increasing a sense of well-being and stamina, and improving both
mental and physical performance
 Treating erectile dysfunction, hepatitis C, and symptoms related
to menopause
 Lowering blood glucose and controlling blood pressure.

How It Is Used
The root of Asian ginseng contains active chemical components called
ginsenosides (or panaxosides) that are thought to be responsible for
the herb’s medicinal properties. The root is dried and used to make
tablets or capsules, extracts, and teas, as well as creams or other
preparations for external use.

What the Science Says
 Some studies have shown that Asian ginseng may lower blood
glucose. Other studies indicate possible beneficial effects on
immune function.
 Although Asian ginseng has been widely studied for a variety of
uses, research results to date do not conclusively support health
claims associated with the herb. Only a few large, high-quality
clinical trials have been conducted. Most evidence is preliminary—
i.e., based on laboratory research or small clinical trials.

 NCCAM supports studies to better understand the use of Asian ginseng. Areas of recent
NCCAM-funded research include the herb’s potential role in treating insulin resistance,
cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Side Effects and Cautions
 Short-term use of ginseng at recommended doses appears to be safe for most people. Some
sources suggest that prolonged use might cause side effects.
 The most common side effects are headaches and sleep and gastrointestinal problems.
 Asian ginseng can cause allergic reactions.
 There have been reports of breast tenderness, menstrual irregularities, and high blood
pressure associated with Asian ginseng products, but these products’ components were
not analyzed, so effects may have been due to another herb or drug in the product.
 Asian ginseng may lower levels of blood sugar; this effect may be seen more in people with
diabetes. Therefore, people with diabetes should use extra caution with Asian ginseng,
especially if they are using medicines to lower blood sugar or taking other herbs, such as
bitter melon and fenugreek, that are also thought to lower blood sugar.
 Tell all your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you
use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure
coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about
CAM, see NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign at nccam.nih.gov/timetotalk/.

Sources
Ginseng. Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturalstandard.com on May 7, 2009.

Ginseng, Asian (Panax ginseng). In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY:
Marcel Dekker; 2005:265-277.

Ginseng, Panax. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturaldatabase.com on May 7, 2009.

Ginseng root. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA:
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:170-177.

For More Information
Visit the NCCAM Web site at nccam.nih.gov and view Using Dietary Supplements Wisely
(nccam.nih.gov/health/supplements/wiseuse.htm).

NCCAM Clearinghouse
Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers): 1-866-464-3615
E-mail: [email protected]

CAM on PubMed®
Web site: nccam.nih.gov/research/camonpubmed/

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: www.ods.od.nih.gov

NIH National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Ginseng Listing: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-ginseng.html

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.
NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and
advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with
your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.
National Institutes of Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
D284
Created September 2005
Updated July 2010