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What Is the Relationship between Ginseng and Blood Pressure?

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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 April 2018
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The relationship between ginseng and blood pressure is a complicated one as studies have yielded conflicting results. Some studies show the herb increases blood pressure, others show blood pressure decreases and the remainder show no effect at all. Some of the differences may be attributed to the type of ginseng used in some of the studies but many of them were examining the same type and still came to different conclusions. Another of the possible causes of such conflicting results may be due the different doses administered during the tests. Some researchers have proposed that maybe ginseng increases blood pressure when taken at normal doses but decreases it when taken in higher doses

There are seven different types of ginseng but the most commonly used are the American, from the Panax quinquefolius plant; the Asian, from the Panax ginseng plant and the Siberian, from the Eleutherococcus senticosus plant. The Asian and American ginseng have a similar chemical makeup and contain ginsenosides, which are thought to be the active ingredients. The Siberian ginseng, on the other hand, does not contain the same active ingredients as it comes from an entirely different plant.

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All three types of ginseng can be called 'adaptogens' in that they are used as a general tonic to improve well being. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Asian ginseng is used to make people feel calmer and to treat conditions of the heart and blood vessels. It is considered safe when taken orally for less than three months but may have hormone-like effects if taken for longer. There are also side effects including high or low blood pressure. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginseng is often used in combination with other ingredients so the exact relationship between Asian ginseng and blood pressure is difficult to ascertain.

People with hypertension are warned to take American ginseng with caution and only under the strict supervision of a doctor as the general consensus seems to be that high blood pressure is a rare but real side effect of taking the herb. American ginseng is often used to treat high blood sugar and in easing flu and cold symptoms. The herb may increase heart rate and blood pressure as well as cause ventricular fibrillation, especially when taken in high doses. Conversely, some people suffer from a decrease in blood pressure so again, the relationship between ginseng and blood pressure is two-sided.

Siberian ginseng has been used in both China and Russia for centuries to prevent colds and flu and increase energy levels. People who are suffering from high blood pressure are advised not to take the herb; also, high blood pressure is one of the side effects. As with the other types, there is definitely a connection between ginseng and blood pressure. Whether is increases or decreases blood pressure, those who have issues with this condition would be advised to try a different herbal remedy, always consulting their physician first.

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