American Ginseng

American Ginseng
American Ginseng

Uses of American Ginseng

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate. The effectiveness ratings for AMERICAN GINSENG are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Diabetes. Some research shows that taking American ginseng by mouth, up to two hours before a meal, can lower blood sugar after a meal in patients with type 2 diabetes. Taking it by mouth daily for 8 weeks might also help lower pre-meal blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Infection of the airways. Some research suggests that taking a specific American ginseng extract called CVT-E002 (Cold-FX, Afexa Life Sciences) 200-400 mg twice daily for 3-6 months during flu season might prevent cold or flu symptoms in adults. In adults older than 65, a flu shot at month 2 along with this treatment is needed to decrease the risk of getting the flu or colds. In people who do get the flu, taking this extract seems to help make symptoms milder and last for less time. Some research shows that the extract might not reduce the chance of getting the first cold of a season, but it seems to reduce the risk of getting repeat colds in a season. It does not seem to help prevent cold or flu-like symptoms in patients with weakened immune systems.

Possibly ineffective for…

  • Athletic performance. Taking 1600 mg of American ginseng by mouth for 4 weeks does not seem to improve athletic performance. But it might decrease muscle damage during exercise.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Insulin resistance caused by drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS (antiretroviral-induced insulin resistance). Early research shows that taking American ginseng root for 14 days while receiving the HIV drug indinavir does not reduce insulin resistance caused by indinavir.
  • Breast cancer. Some studies conducted in China suggest that breast cancer patients treated with any form of ginseng (American or Panax) do better and feel better. However, this may not be a result of taking the ginseng, because the patients in the study were also more likely to be treated with the prescription cancer drug tamoxifen. It is difficult to know how much of the benefit to attribute to ginseng.
  • Tiredness in people with cancer. Some research shows that taking American ginseng daily for 8 weeks improves tiredness in people with cancer. But not all research agrees.
  • Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Early research shows that taking American ginseng 1-6 hours before a mental test improves short-term memory and reaction time in healthy people.
  • High blood pressure. Some research shows that taking this herb might reduce blood pressure by a small amount in people with diabetes and blood pressure. But not all research agrees.
  • Muscle soreness caused by exercise. Early research shows that taking American ginseng for four weeks might decrease muscle soreness from exercise. But this doesn’t seem to help people work out more.
  • Schizophrenia. Early research shows that American ginseng might improve some mental symptoms from schizophrenia. But it doesn’t seem to improve all mental symptoms. This treatment might also reduce some physical side effects of antipsychotic drugs.
  • Aging.
  • Anemia.
  • Bleeding disorders.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fever.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Gastritis.
  • Hangover symptoms.
  • Headaches.
  • Impotence.
  • Insomnia.
  • Memory loss.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth complications.
  • Stress.
  • Swine flu.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate American ginseng for these uses.

Side Effects of American Ginseng

When taken by mouth: American ginseng is LIKELY SAFE when taken appropriately, short-term. Doses of 100-3000 mg daily have been used safely for up to 12 weeks. Single doses of up to 10 grams have also been safely used. It can cause some side effects including diarrhea, itching, trouble sleeping (insomnia), headache, and nervousness. Rare side effects include a severe rash called Stevens-Johnson syndrome, liver damage, and severe allergic reaction.

Warnings & Precautions

  • Children: American ginseng is POSSIBLY SAFE for children when taken by mouth, short-term. A specific extract called CVT-E002 (Cold-FX, Afexa Life Sciences) has been used in doses of 4.5-26 mg/kg daily for 3 days in children 3-12 years of age.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: American ginseng is POSSIBLY UNSAFE in pregnancy. One of the chemicals in Panax ginseng, a plant related to American ginseng, has been linked to possible birth defects. Do not take it if you are pregnant. There isn’t enough reliable information to know if it is safe to use when breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Diabetes: American ginseng might lower blood sugar. In people with diabetes who are taking medications to lower blood sugar, adding American ginseng might lower it too much. Monitor your blood sugar closely if you have diabetes and use it.
  • Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: American ginseng preparations that contain chemicals called ginsenosides might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use American ginseng that contains ginsenosides. However, some extracts have had the ginsenosides removed (Cold-FX, Afexa Life Sciences, Canada). American ginseng extracts such as these that contain no ginsenosides or contain only a low concentration of ginsenosides do not appear to act like estrogen.
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia): High doses have been linked with insomnia. If you have trouble sleeping, use it with caution.
  • Schizophrenia (a mental disorder): High doses of American ginseng have been linked with sleep problems and agitation in people with schizophrenia . Be careful when using if you have schizophrenia.
  • Surgery: American ginseng might affect blood sugar levels and might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Consult your doctor or pharmacist.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.