While Panax Ginseng supplements are generally safe when taken by mouth for most adults, it is possibly unsafe when taken in long-term large doses. Some studies show that prolonged use of panax ginseng may have hormone-like effects, but the most common side effects are:
- trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- menstrual problems
- breast pain
- increase heart rate
- high or low blood pressure
- loss of appetite
- mood changes
- vaginal bleeding
While these are the most common negative side effects, other less common side effects have been reported. Some of these include a severe rash called Stevens-Johnson syndrome, liver damage, and severe allergic reactions.
Special precautions before taking Panax ginseng supplements or creams:
- Erectile dysfunction: Creams for erectile dysfunction that contain Panax ginseng and other ingredients are generally safe when applied to the penis as long as it is removed before sex. In certain cases negative side effects may occur like mild pain and irritation or a burning sensation. Not enough is known about the safety of these creams for repeated and long term use.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Do not use panax ginseng if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as it is possibly unsafe. One of the chemicals contained in Panax ginseng has been found to cause birth defects in animals. Not enough is known either on the safety of using products containing Panax ginseng during breastfeeding.
- Infants and children: Studies show that using Panax ginseng for infants and children is likely unsafe and that it may cause fatal poisoning in babies. Not enough is known about the safety of Panax ginseng for older children either, so until more is known, avoid using Panax ginseng on older children.
- Autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions): Panax ginseng increases the activity of the immune system and might make autoimmune diseases worse. Do not use Panax ginseng if you have any autoimmune conditions.
- Bleeding conditions: Panax ginseng interferes with blood clotting and should not be used if you have a bleeding condition.
- Heart conditions: Panax ginseng can affect heart rhythm and blood pressure slightly on the first day of using it, but there are generally no other changes with continued use. However, studies of the safety of Panax ginseng in people with cardiovascular disease are ongoing and not enough is known yet. For this reason, you should use Panax ginseng with caution if you have heart disease and always consult your doctor or healthcare expert about which supplements are safe for you to take.
- Diabetes: Panax ginseng may lower blood sugar levels and should not be taken with medications that lower blood sugar as well. Always monitor your blood sugar closely if you have diabetes and are using Panax ginseng at the same time.
- Hormone-sensitive conditions (breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids): The active chemical in Panax ginseng, ginsenosides, can have the same effect in the body as oestrogen. If you have any hormone-sensitive condition which may be worsened by exposure to oestrogen, avoid using products that contain Panax ginseng.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia): Taking high doses of Panax has been closely linked to insomnia. Panax ginseng should be used with caution if you already have trouble sleeping at night.
- Schizophrenia: Higher doses of Panax ginseng may cause sleep problems and increased agitation in people with schizophrenia. Be careful when using Panax ginseng if you have schizophrenia and always consult your doctor or healthcare expert about which medicines or supplements are safe for you during this time.
- Organ transplant: Panax ginseng increases the activity of the immune system and may interfere in the effectiveness of other medications that are given after an organ transplant to help reduce the chances of that organ being rejected. Do not use any products containing Panax ginseng if you have received an organ transplant.