Advertisement
Share

Ginseng: many claims but few solid studies

In Chinese medicine, ginseng is used as a general tonic to enhance overall health, particularly among the elderly. The most popular among several types is the Panax ginseng species, also called Chinese, Korean or Japanese ginseng. The active ingredients, called saponins, are found in the roots of the plant.

Uses: Ginseng has been used to promote cardiac health, exercise performance and energy levels.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. March 5, 2003 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday March 05, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Drug reference -- In a Monday Health section article on the supplement ginseng, a reference to monoamine oxidase inhibitors was incorrectly shortened to MOA inhibitors. The correct reference is to MAO inhibitors.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday March 10, 2003 Home Edition Health Part F Page 8 Features Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Drug reference -- In last Monday’s Supplements column on ginseng, a reference to monoamine oxidase inhibitors was incorrectly abbreviated as MOA inhibitors. The correct reference is to MAO inhibitors.

Dose: 100 to 400 milligrams per day in capsules.

Precautions: Ginseng use should be stopped at least a week before surgery because of the potential to increase bleeding. Some studies suggest that the herb can affect the blood sugar levels of diabetics. It may interact with blood-thinning drugs, MOA inhibitors, corticosteroids, digoxin, diabetes medications and estrogen therapy.

Advertisement

Research: Most studies have failed to show that ginseng helps increase energy levels or athletic performance, and the limited research on cardiovascular effects has been mixed. As for mental functioning, a study reported at the recent American Stroke Assn. meeting found that ginseng improved memory scores of people suffering from stroke-induced dementia. The study was small and researchers caution that larger studies are needed.

Dietary supplement makers are not required by the U.S. government to demonstrate their products are safe or effective.

Ask your health-care provider for advice on selecting a brand.


Advertisement