Health Guide

American ginseng

What is it?

American ginseng is an herbal medicine used to increase physical and mental well being. It may also be used to treat high blood sugar.

Other names for American ginseng include: Panax quinquefolium, Canadian ginseng, Redberry, Shang, and Strawberry ginseng.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you ...

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breast feeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease
  • have diabetes
  • use birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy ("HRT")


Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse about how much American ginseng you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking American ginseng. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more American ginseng or take it more often than what is written on the directions.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take American ginseng without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Blood thinning medicine (anticoagulants, examples: warfarin (Coumadin(R)), aspirin)(11,12).
  • Medicine for diabetes (examples: glyburide (DiaBeta(R), Glynase PresTab(R), Glucovance(R), Micronase(R)); insulin (Humulin(R), Novolin(R), Humalog(R)); metformin (Glucophage(R), Glucovance(R)); pioglitazone (Actos(R))).
  • Estrogen (examples: conjugated estrogens (Premarin(R)); Estradiol (Alora(R), Climara(R), Depogen(R)); Esterified estrogens (Estratab(R), Menest(R)); Estropipate (Ogen(R), Ortho-Est(R)); Ethinyl estradiol (Estinyl(R)).
  • Medicine used to treat high blood pressure (examples: Nifedipine (Adalat(R), Procardia(R)).
  • Medicine for depression or Alzheimer's disease (monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), examples: isocarboxazid (Marplan(R)), selegiline (Deprenyl(R)), tranylcypromine (Parnate(R))).
  • Water pills (diuretics, examples: furosemide (Lasix(R), torsemide (Demadex(R), bumetanide (Bumex(R)).
  • Medicines for your heart (digitalis, examples: digoxin (Lanoxin(R)); digitoxin (Crystodigin(R)); deslanoside (Cedilanid-D(R)).
  • Medicines used to treat pain (codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin(R)), oxycodone (Percocet(R), Roxicodone(R)), morphine).


  • Before taking American ginseng, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects.

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash.

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Low blood sugar (hunger, blurred vision, sweating, headache, heartbeat changes, feeling shaky, weak, or nervous).
  • Symptoms of too much estrogen (breast tenderness or swelling, vaginal bleeding).


1. Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Koo VYY et al: American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) reduces postprandial glycemia in nondiabetic subjects and subjects with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Arch Intern Med 2000; 160(7):1009-1013.

2. Greenspan EM: Ginseng and vaginal bleeding. JAMA 1983; 249:2018.

3. Palmer BV, Montgomery ACV & Monteiro JCMP: Gin Seng and mastalgia. Br Med J 1978; 1:1284.

4. Jones BD & Runikis AM: Interaction of ginseng with phenelzine. J Clin Psychopharmacol 1987; 7:201-202.

5. Shader RI & Greenblatt DJ: Phenelzine and the dream machine-ramblings and reflections. J Clin Psychopharmacol 1985; 5(2):65.

6. Becker BN, Greene J, Evanson J et al: Ginseng-induced diuretic resistance. JAMA 1996; 276(8): 607.

7. Abebe W: Herbal medication: potential for adverse effects with analgesic drugs. J Clin Pharm Ther 2002; 27:391-401.

8. Smith M, Lin KM & Zheng YP: An open trial of nifedipine-herb interactions: nifedipine with St. John's Wort, ginseng, or Ginkgo biloba (abstract). Clin Pharmacol Ther 2001; 69(2):P86.

9. Janetzky K & Morreale AP: Probable interaction between warfarin and ginseng. Am J Health-Syst Pharm 1997; 54: 692-693.

10. Sotaniemi E, Haapakoski E & Rautio A: Ginseng therapy in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Diabetes Care, 1995; 18:1373-1375.

11. Rosado MF: Thrombosis of a prosthetic aortic valve disclosing a hazardous interaction between warfarin and a commercial ginseng product. Cardiology 2003; 99:111.

12. Yuan C-S, Wei G, Dey L, et al: Brief communication: american ginseng reduces warfarin's effect in healthy patients: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2004; 141:23-27.

Last Updated: 10/4/2010
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