Medicine Interactions with Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng is important for the overall well being of the human body. However, when taking Panax ginseng supplements, you should be cautious about combining it with other supplements or medications. Always consult your healthcare expert before using Panax ginseng along with supplements or medications that you are currently taking. Keep in mind the following:

Moderate interactions:

Panax ginseng may decrease how quickly some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. When taken simultaneously, Panax ginseng can increase the side effects of these medications.

Before taking Panax ginseng along with other medications you are presently taking, talk to your healthcare provider. Some medications that are changed and broken down by the liver include:

  • amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • clozapine (Clozaril)
  • codeine
  • desipramine (Norpramin)
  • donepezil (Aricept)
  • fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • flecainide (Tambocor)
  • fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • meperidine (Demerol)
  • methadone (Dolophine)
  • metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • ondansetron (Zofran)
  • tramadol (Ultram)
  • trazodone (Desyrel)

Medications for depression (MAOIs) also interact with Panax ginseng. Both Panax ginseng and antidepressants stimulate the body and may cause too much stimulation leading to side effects like anxiousness, headaches, restlessness, and insomnia. Medications used for depression that should not be taken with Panax ginseng include:

  • phenelzine (Nardil)
  • tranylcypromine (Parnate)

Stimulant drugs should not be taken with Panax ginseng. Both work to speed up the nervous system and can make you feel jittery or have more extreme side effects like increased heart rate and high blood pressure. For this reason you should avoid taking any stimulant drugs along with Panax ginseng. Some of these stimulant drugs are:

  • diethylpropion (Tenuate)
  • epinephrine
  • phentermine (Ionamin)
  • pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)

Medications that slow blood clotting interact with Panax ginseng. The two should not be taken together because Panax ginseng slows blood clotting as well and both taken together will increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Medications that slow clotting and should not be taken with Panax ginseng include:

  • aspirin
  • clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others)
  • ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others)
  • naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others)
  • dalteparin (Fragmin)
  • enoxaparin (Lovenox)
  • heparin
  • warfarin (Coumadin)

Additional concern is that Warfarin (Coumadin) taken with Panax ginseng may also slow blood clotting, but not enough scientific research has been provided for this to be a serious problem just yet. We do advise, however, that if you are taking Warfarin and Panax ginseng together you should have your blood checked regularly.

Immunosuppressants should not be taken with Panax ginseng. Panax ginseng increases the immune system and may decrease the effectiveness of the medications that work to decrease the immune system. Medications that work to decrease the immune system and should not be taken with Panax ginseng include:

  • azathioprine (Imuran)
  • basiliximab (Simulect)
  • cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
  • daclizumab (Zenapax)
  • muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3)
  • mycophenolate (CellCept)
  • tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf)
  • sirolimus (Rapamune)
  • prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone)
  • corticosteroids (glucocorticoids)

Diabetes medications and Panax ginseng should not be taken together as both work to lower blood sugar in the body. Monitor your blood sugar closely and remember that your dose of diabetes medication may need to be changed. Diabetes medications that should not be taken with Panax ginseng include:

  • glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase)
  • insulin
  • pioglitazone (Actos)
  • rosiglitazone (Avandia)
  • chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
  • glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • tolbutamide (Orinase)

Alcohol interacts negatively with Panax ginseng as well, though not as negatively. While the body breaks down alcohol to get rid of it, Panax ginseng increases how fast the body performs the process. Caffeine and Panax ginseng also interact and speed up the nervous system. This may lead to mild side effects like jittery feelings or more severe side effects like increased heart rate or high blood pressure. For this reason, avoid taking caffeine along with Panax ginseng.

Taking Panax ginseng along with insulin may cause your blood sugar to dip too low. This is because both work to decrease blood sugar in your body. Monitor your blood sugar closely and be mindful that your dose of insulin may need to be altered.

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