American ginseng, a close botanical relative of Chinese or Korean ginseng, offers a many health-related benefits and may ease the symptoms of dozens of common conditions. American ginseng may help to prevent or treat cancer, sexual problems, respiratory infections, diabetes and heart disease.
In general, American ginseng is usually safe when it is used cautiously by healthy adults. However, there are some American ginseng contraindications, or circumstances htat make serious side effects unacceptably likely. Do not use American ginseng if you fall into any of these high-risk categories.
American ginseng should not be used during pregnancy. Although it has been used historically by pregnant women, it causes birth defects in animals in laboratory settings. American ginseng could also cause problems if you if you have to have a C-section to deliver your baby. Until more is known about the safety of American gineng during pregnancy, avoid it during all stages of gestation.
People who will Need Surgery
If you are scheduled to have surgery any time in the next several weeks, do not take American ginseng. Surgery is an American ginseng contraindication because compounds in the plant can alter blood sugar levels, making it more difficult for health care providers to control your blood-glucose levels during and after surgery. If you have an unplanned surgery while using American ginseng, tell your health care provider so she can take extra precautions to prevent unsafe drops and rises in your blood sugar.
People Taking Coumadin
For unknown reasons, American ginseng appears to reduce the effects of the blood thinner, or anti-coagulant, known as warfarin or Coumadin. American ginseng can increase the chances of clotting in people taking this medication, and this could lead to serious or life-threatening problems. Many other drugs and supplemetns interact with warfarin, so ask your health care provider before taking any product that your practitioner did not prescribe.
Visit the National Institutes of Health for more information about American ginseng contraindications.