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Low Risk

Also known as:

Asian Ginseng Panax

picture of ginseng pills
Possible Symptoms
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach upset and diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Allergic skin reactions
  • Difficulty sleeping
What to Do
  1. Wipe or rinse out the mouth.
  2. Give a serving size of water to drink.
  3. Call 1-800-222-1222 for additional instructions.


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Additional Information

Callers to the poison center ask about the uses of ginseng and the side effects associated with this supplement.

The ginseng plant was discovered centuries ago growing in the mountain regions of China and is the common name given to several species of plants called Panax. There are many different types but the most common is Asian ginseng. People initially used this plant as a food source, but it eventually became popular for its possible healing and therapeutic properties. Today, people mainly use the root part of the plant for health purposes.

What is Ginseng good for?

Ginseng is advertised for its ability to boost energy, improve memory, reduce environmental stress, and as a general tonic to improve well-being. Most calls to the poison center about ginseng are questions about the supplement versus the actual plant. Ginseng supplements come as tablets, energy drinks, herbal teas, and skincare products. As with all supplements, it is not FDA approved for treating health conditions, and there are important safety issues to consider.

Ginseng cautions:

Short-term use of ginseng appears to be safe with most people reporting adverse effects to be minor, such as dry mouth, headache, stomach upset, increased heart rate, and difficulty sleeping. However, if someone takes high doses over a long period of time, ginseng abuse syndrome can develop. Symptoms associated with this syndrome include heart palpitations, heaviness in the chest, high blood pressure, dizziness, sleeplessness, red skin rash (especially of the face), confusion, and depression. If any symptoms develop while taking ginseng, discontinue use and seek medical attention.

This supplement is not recommended for infants or children, and it should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding due to a lack of safety information. Anyone with an autoimmune disease should use ginseng with caution. Additionally, it can increase the risk of bleeding, so anyone who is about to have surgery should check with their surgeon before use. Some prescription medications can interact with ginseng and lead to side effects. Avoid use with any anticoagulants or blood thinners. As always, discuss all medications and supplements with your physician before taking them to avoid unpleasant or dangerous side effects.

What To Do If There Is An Exposure

If you find someone has eaten a small amount of a ginseng supplement, do not panic. Wipe out any material from the mouth and give them something to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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