The Ginseng Series - Interactions, Combinations and Side Effects

The Ginseng Series - Interactions, Combinations and Side Effects

The consumption of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements has grown worldwide, mainly to prevent deficiencies in certain diets, for medical purposes or for general health benefits. Many people will consume one or more different supplements, perhaps even at the same time of day, alongside medically prescribed drugs [1].

However, there are numerous supplements which interact with one another in both positive and negative ways. Some supplements may inhibit a drug's performance when taken alongside a drug or as a combination which may lead to unwanted side effects.

The absorption of each supplement is also a major factor. In our diet, vitamins and minerals that often accompany each other enhance the bioavailability in the body, otherwise known as the method of absorption. When consumed on their own as a supplement our body may not absorb the same amount of that micronutrient.

In contrast, the consumption of different vitamins or minerals together may inhibit each other's absorption, resulting in reduced health benefits. Not to mention feeling out of pocket paying for supplements that may not even be absorbed in the body!


Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba

Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba share many similarities. For instance, both are plant-based with a long history of treating ailments.

Ginkgo Biloba is known as the “maidenhair tree”, a living fossil dating back 270 million years. The tree is native to China and has various uses in traditional medicine [2].

The two ingredients are often combined together in supplement form. They share many health benefits, including benefits to cognitive performance and reducing fatigue. Two active ingredients in Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba, ginsenosides and terpene trilactones, are often combined to enhance the health benefits when partnered with flavonoids [3].

A study of 20 individuals found that supplementing with both ginseng and ginkgo biloba together was more effective in improving cognitive performance than either alone [4].

Ginseng and Drugs Interactions

Warfarin is an oral anticoagulant, used to inhibit blood clotting. A study shows that high levels of Ginseng are often linked to reduced plasma levels of warfarin [5].

Ginseng consumption alongside antidiabetic drugs or insulin has been found to increase the chances of hyperglycemia by reducing blood sugar to dangerously low levels [6].

Ginseng Side Effects

There are few reports of side effects from ginseng consumption. When consuming 6 x 500 mg ginseng daily, side effects included hypertension, gastrointestinal discomfort and insomnia. If you are prone to experiencing any of these ailments regularly then it is recommended not to consume ginseng or to do so with caution at low doses.

Ginseng has also been linked to menstrual problems, most likely caused by hormonal interferences by the root [7].

Extreme symptoms caused by consuming ginseng in excess of 15g per day showed symptoms of confusion and the onset of depression [8].

Data regarding the reported side effects or negative interactions with drugs is not widely applicable. The negative symptoms are often case-specific to individuals who experienced pre-existing health problems [9].


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