Points - Ask the Doctor

Q: Can ginseng effectively prevent the common cold and flu?

A: Although most people in the West think of ginseng as a stimulant, in Eastern Europe ginseng is widely believed to improve overall immunity to illness. A recent study looked at the potential immune-stimulating effects of Panax ginseng when taken by mouth. Four weeks into the study, all participants received influenza vaccine. The results showed a significant decline in the frequency of colds and flus in the group that took ginseng.

While more research is needed, this study suggests that ginseng may be able to do what echinacea, zinc lozenges, and vitamin C cannot: prevent colds.

There are actually three different herbs commonly called ginseng: Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), and Siberian "ginseng" (Eleutherococcus senticosus). (The latter herb is actually not ginseng at all, but some herbalists believe that it functions identically.)

The various forms of ginseng appear to be nontoxic, both in the short and long term, according to the results of studies in mice, rats, chickens, and dwarf pigs. Ginseng also does not seem to be carcinogenic.

Side effects are rare. Occasionally women report menstrual abnormalities and/or breast tenderness when they take ginseng, and overstimulation and insomnia have also been reported. Unconfirmed reports suggest that highly excessive dosages of ginseng can raise blood pressure, increase heart rate, and possibly cause other significant effects.

Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

About our Doctors

This month's Ask the Doctor question was answered by:

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, PhD, D.O.M., Dipl. ABAAHP . from his website:


Featured Products

Chinese Herbs

TCM Books

TOW Store
This Month's Articles

October 2019

Volume 17, Number 10

Points of Interest

Acupuncture Point Location Center

Clinical Doctoral Program

Today's TCM Tip

For inflammation, add LI4 and LI11

Keep Informed

Sign Up for Our
FREE e-Newsletter

All Contents Copyright 1996-2015 Cyber Legend Ltd. All rights reserved. Use of this website is subject to our Terms and Conditions. All logos, service marks and trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Legal Disclaimer Notice: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.