Siberian ginseng is used as an adaptogen, for increasing
resistance to environmental stress. It is also used orally for
normalizing high or low blood pressure, insomnia, and increasing
work capacity, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, fibromyalgia,
rheumatoid arthritis, influenza, swine flu, chronic bronchitis,
improving athletic performance, reducing toxicity of
chemotherapy, and symptomatic treatment of herpes simplex type II
infections. It is also used orally as a general stimulant,
diuretic, appetite stimulant, immune system stimulant, and for
preventing colds and flu.
No concerns regarding safety when used orally and appropriately,
short-term. Siberian ginseng root extract has been used safely in
clinical trials lasting up to 2
months.34,35,36,37,38,39 A specific combination
product containing Siberian ginseng plus andrographis (Kan Jang,
Swedish Herbal Institute) has also been safely used in multiple
short-term clinical trials lasting 4-7
days.40,41,42,43,44,45,46 One clinical trial used this
combination product in low doses for up to 3 months.47
There is insufficient scientific information available about the
safety of Siberian
ginseng when used long-term. There is no clinical evidence of
Pregnancy and Lactation: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.
Common cold. Some clinical research shows that taking a specific
combination product containing Siberian ginseng plus andrographis
(Kan Jang, Swedish Herbal Institute) orally significantly
improves symptoms of the common cold when started within 72 hours
of symptom onset. Some symptoms can improve after 2 days of
treatment. It typically takes 4-5 days of treatment before there
is maximal symptom relief.40,42,43,48,45,49 Some
research suggests this combination of Siberian ginseng and
andrographis relieves cold symptoms better than Echinacea or
placebo in children.50
Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Taking a specific Siberian
ginseng extract, standardized to contain eleutheroside 0.3%
(Elagen), orally seems to reduce the frequency, severity, and
duration of herpes simplex type II infections.34,35
Athletic performance. Taking Siberian ginseng orally doesn't seem
to increase speed, quality, and capacity for physical work. A
specific Siberian ginseng root liquid extract standardized to
eleutherosides B and E content 3.4 mL daily doesn't seem to have
any effect on endurance; performance; or psychological, cardiac,
or respiratory parameters in trained distance
runners.37,51 In trained endurance cyclists, Siberian
ginseng 1200 mg per day (Endurox) doesn't seem to have any effect
on glycogen, fat utilization, or cycling performance
time.52 It also doesn't seem to improve respiration;
reduce lactate production; or hasten heart rate recovery during
stair-stepping exercise, treadmill, or cyclic
INSUFFICIENT SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to RATE
Chronic fatigue syndrome. Taking Siberian ginseng orally 2
grams/day for 2 months does not reduce symptoms of chronic
fatigue syndrome to the extent of clinical
Cognitive performance. There is preliminary evidence that
suggests Siberian ginseng might improve memory and feelings of
well-being in middle-aged people.36
Familial Mediterranean fever. Preliminary clinical research
suggests that a combination of Siberian ginseng, andrographis,
schisandra, and licorice (ImmunoGuard, Inspired Nutritionals)
reduces the duration, frequency, and severity of attacks of
familial Mediterranean fever in children.56
Heart disease. There is preliminary evidence that suggests
administering Siberian ginseng intravenously might be useful for
hyperlipidemia, and arrhythmias.57,58
Influenza. Preliminary clinical research suggests that patients
with influenza who take a specific combination product containing
Siberian ginseng plus andrographis (Kan Jang, Swedish Herbal
Institute) have symptom relief more quickly compared to patients
taking amantadine. Patients who take this combination also seem
to have a reduced risk of post-influenza complication such as
sinusitis or bronchitis.44
Ischemic stroke. There is preliminary evidence that suggests
administering Siberian ginseng intravenously might be useful for
treating acute cerebral infarction.59
Quality of life. Preliminary clinical research shows that
Siberian ginseng significantly improves social functioning and
mental well-being in people over 65 years of age after 4 weeks of
treatment; however, this was not maintained after 8 weeks of
More evidence is needed to rate Siberian ginseng for these
Mechanism of Action:
The applicable parts of Siberian ginseng are the root and leaf.
The root, which is most commonly used, contains active compounds
referred to as eleutherosides A through M.60
Eleutheroside B (syringin) and eleutheroside E (syringaresinol)
are the most plentiful and are used as marker compounds for
Siberian ginseng products.61 The eleutherosides
include a variety of diverse compounds including saponins
(daucosterol, beta-sitosterol, hederasaponin B), coumarins
(isofraxidin), lignans (sesamin, syringaresinol),
phenylpropanoids (syringin, caffeic acid, sinapyl alcohol,
coniferyl aldehyde, protocatechuic acid), betulinic acid, vitamin
E, and provitamins like beta-carotene.60 Several
constituents including syringin, syringoresinol, sesamin, beta
sitosterol, caffeic acid, and coniferyl aldehyde are thought to
have antioxidant and possible anticancer effects.60 In
addition, there is some evidence that the constituent coniferyl
aldehyde protects DNA against breakage caused by ultraviolet
light.60 Siberian ginseng root extracts seem to have
an antiproliferative effect on leukemia cells and appear to
potentiate the effect of antimetabolites such as
cytarabine.62 There's also preliminary evidence that
suggests it might act as an antioxidant and prevent damage in
ischemic stroke.59 Siberian ginseng root, the lignan
constituent sesamin, and the phenylpropanoid syringin seem to
have immunostimulatory effects.60 Siberian ginseng
increases lymphocyte counts and phagocyte
Some eleutherosides have structural similarities to cardiac
glycosides and can interfere with measurement of serum digoxin
levels by some assay methods.64 There is no clinical
evidence that Siberian ginseng has any of the pharmacological
effects of cardiac glycosides. Siberian ginseng constituents have
a variety of other pharmacological effects. Other constituents
are also thought to be anti-inflammatory, sedative, diuretic,
gonadotropic, estrogenic, protein-anabolic, and stimulate the
pituitary-adrenocortical system.65 Siberian
ginseng root extract seems to inhibit RNA-type viruses including
human rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and
influenza A virus, but has no effect on DNA viruses such as
adenovirus or herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1).66
Polysaccharide derivatives of Siberian ginseng appear to inhibit
growth of the tuberculosis bacterium.67
No adverse effects are expected if used as
Interactions with Drugs:
Interactions with Foods:
Interactions with Lab Tests:
Digoxin Serum Assay: Siberian ginseng may interfere with some
serum digoxin measurements.
Dr Clare’s Blend: 1 gm per day.
Dr Clare’s Comment.
An "Adaptogen" is a non-medical term used to suggest that a
substance can act to strengthen the body and increase general
resistance. It is often used to describe the activity of Siberian
ginseng.60 Siberian ginseng is a completely different
herb than American or Panax ginseng.
Specific References: GINSENG, SIBERIAN
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