Interactions Of Ginseng With Drugs

Ginseng is a widely used herbal product in China, other Asian countries and also in the United States. For thousands of years, the common people in China have used ginseng as a tonic. The Chinese ginseng that grows in Manchuria is Panax ginseng. However, the ginseng that grows in North America is Panax quinquefolius. The common preparation of ginseng is ginseng root. Ginseng is promoted as a tonic and also as a reliever of stress. Ginseng may also be effective in the treatment of mild hyperglycemia. In Germany, it is indicated to combat lack of energy. Ginseng contains saponins known as ginsenosides.

Lee et al. studied interaction between P. ginseng and alcohol in 14 healthy male volunteers utilizing each subject as their own control. At 40 min after the last drink, the blood alcohol in the test group receiving ginseng extract (3 gm/65 kg bodyweight) along with alcohol (72 g/65 kg bodyweight) was about 35% lower than the control value (75). A study using mice indicated that decreased plasma concentrations of alcohol in the presence of ginseng may be due to a delay in gastric emptying (76). Interaction between ginseng and phenelzine, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, has been reported. The interaction may be related to the psychoactive effect of ginseng (77).

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