Ginseng Tea During Pregnancy?
It’s no secret that ginseng is one of the most popular herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). However, there are some concerns about its safety when taken during pregnancy. Some studies have shown that taking ginseng may increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. Other research suggests it might not affect fetal growth at all. Still other research shows that it might even decrease birth weight.
So how much does ginseng tea do to your baby? Is it safe to take during pregnancy?
Let’s look into these questions together!
What is Ginseng Tea?
Ginseng tea is made from the roots of the plant known as Panax quinquefolius. This herb grows wild in many parts of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. It’s mainly grown for its leaves which are dried and ground up into a tea.
The leaves contain several compounds called ginsenosides. These ginsenoside compounds have been studied extensively because they’re thought to play a role in various health conditions such as diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM), high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer prevention and treatment.
The ginsenoside content in ginseng tea is very different to the ginsenoside content in other parts of the ginseng plant. Most studies on ginseng’s health benefits are done using the whole plant not the root.
Does Ginseng Tea Have Any Health Benefits?
There’s a lot of conflicting research about whether or not ginseng is beneficial for your health. Some studies show promise while others show no benefit at all.
Research suggests that:
Ginseng might boost the immune system in people who have low white blood cell counts.
Ginsenoside Rb1 may help prevent oxidative stress caused by exercise.
Rb1 may help prevent degenerative changes in the retinas of the eyes associated with macular degeneration.
It may help prevent the death of brain cells in people who suffer from chronic cerebral disorders, such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.
Ginsenoside Rg3 may increase bone mass in women after menopause.
Ginseng may decrease the number of unhealthy days in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Rb1 may increase muscle strength in older people.
Ginseng might decrease the number of falls in older adults.
Ginseng might increase the number of correct answers on a test in people with low thyroid function.
Does Ginseng Tea Affect Pregnancy?
There aren’t any studies which look at ginseng tea specifically and its effects on pregnancy. However, there are a few studies which look at ginseng and its effects on fertility.
Research suggests that:
Taking ginseng and undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant doesn’t increase the chance of having a multiple birth.
Ginsenoside Rg3 doesn’t affect male fertility.
The ginsenoside compound family may be useful in preventing miscarriage in women who’ve had one in the past.
Ginsenoside Rb1 might increase the chance of a multiple birth, especially twins, in women undergoing IVF.
Ginsenoside Rg3 might increase the number of eggs released during ovulation in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Diminished ovarian reserve is when a woman’s ovaries produce fewer eggs than normal as she ages.
Ginsenoside Rg3 may increase the chance of pregnancy in women undergoing IVF.
Ginsenoside Rb1 may help prevent the loss of an embryo.
Does Ginseng Tea Affect Diabetes?
There is contradictory evidence about whether or not drinking ginseng affects your blood sugar levels. While some studies show that it might help, others suggest it doesn’t make a difference.
Research suggests that:
Ginsenoside Rb1 does reduce fasting blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Ginsenoside Rg1 might help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Does Ginseng Tea Cause Side Effects Or Interactions?
Ginseng may cause side effects and interact with other prescription drugs. If you’re thinking about taking ginseng to treat a medical condition, you should speak to your doctor first.
Possible side effects:
Increased blood pressure .
. Restlessness .
. Nausea .
Ginseng may also interact with the following:
Antidepressants, especially monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Taking ginseng or American ginseng supplements might cause a dangerous increase in the levels of this drug in your blood.
taking ginseng or American ginseng supplements might cause a dangerous increase in the levels of this drug in your blood. Antipsychotics. Taking ginseng with these drugs may cause sudden increases in your blood pressure.
taking ginseng with these drugs may cause sudden increases in your blood pressure. Diabetes medications, such as insulin and metformin. Taking ginseng with these drugs might cause your blood sugar levels to become too low.
taking ginseng with these drugs might cause your blood sugar levels to become too low. Diuretics. Drinking ginseng tea with these drugs may cause water retention (fluid retention).
drinking ginseng tea with these drugs may cause water retention (fluid retention). Vaccines. There is some evidence that ginseng might decrease the effectiveness of vaccines, such as those for tetnus and influenza.
How Do You Take Ginseng?
There are many ways you can take ginseng. It can be drunk as a tea or added to other foods and drinks.
Ginseng tea bags and liquid extracts are widely available. You can also buy ginseng in the form of capsules, tablets, or as dried roots or leaves.
Different types of ginseng contain different active ingredients. In the U.S., American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is thought to be less potent than Asian ginseng (P.
Ginseng). However, there isn’t enough evidence to be sure of this for certain.
How Much Ginseng Should You Take?
The typical daily dose of ginseng can range from 200 milligrams (mg) to 2 grams per day.
The usual therapeutic dose of American ginseng is 800 mg of the dried root three times per day.
The typical daily dose of Asian ginseng is 500 milligrams (mg) to 2 grams per day. However, it isn’t known how this relates to the amount of active ingredients. 100 mg to 1 gram three times daily is thought to be the therapeutic dose.
When taking ginseng, you should always follow the dosage instructions on the package or prescribed by your doctor.
Ginseng can cause side effects and may even be dangerous in some circumstances. Do not take ginseng if you:
Are pregnant or breastfeeding. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is thought to be safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, Asian ginseng (P.
notoginseng) is best avoided during these times.
Have a medical condition, such as severe anemia, bleeding disorder, heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
Are taking prescription medications, especially for the treatment of diabetes, blood pressure, or depression. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure that ginseng doesn’t interact with any other medicines you are taking.
Already have a weak or low blood pressure condition and take ginseng. This will increase your risk of fainting or low blood pressure.
Drink more than three cups of any type of ginseng tea per day. This may cause elevations in your blood pressure.
Consume more than 1.5 fluid ounces (44 ml) of an alcohol containing ginseng drink per day. This may also cause your blood pressure to become too low.
Always follow the specific instructions that your doctor has given you for the safe and effective use of ginseng.
Don’t take ginseng if you are also taking disulfiram (Antabuse) or metronidazole (Flagyl). These drugs interact in the body to cause a serious reaction, such as flushing, rapid heartbeat, and nausea.
Ginseng may increase your risk of bleeding. This is due to its effects on blood platelets. If you experience any unusual bleeding, or have a history of bleeding disorders, consult your doctor before taking ginseng.
Be cautious if you are taking ginseng and undergo surgery. Talk to your doctor first about whether you should stop taking it before your operation.
Side Effects and What to Do
Although side effects aren’t common, they may occur. Some possible side effects include:
Nausea or vomiting
If you experience serious side effects or any you believe to be serious, stop taking ginseng and seek emergency medical attention. Other less serious side effects should subside within a few days. If you start experiencing persistent discomfort, or any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor:
Vivid dreams or nightmares
Confusion or disorientation
Loss of mental acuity
If you experience an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms to watch for, which may indicate a reaction, include:
Itching or hives
Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
If you are experiencing side effects, or have any questions, be sure to contact your doctor.
Sources & references used in this article:
Safety and efficacy of panax ginseng during pregnancy and lactation by D Seely, JJ Dugoua, D Perri, EM Mills… – Journal of Population …, 2008 – jptcp.com
Use of herbal drugs during early pregnancy in relation to maternal characteristics and pregnancy outcome by L Holst, H Nordeng, S Haavik – … and drug safety, 2008 – Wiley Online Library
Review of cases of patient risk associated with ginseng abuse and misuse by DJ Paik, CH Lee – Journal of ginseng research, 2015 – Elsevier
The Risk–Benefit Profile of Commonly Used Herbal Therapies: Ginkgo, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Echinacea, Saw Palmetto, and Kava by E Ernst – Annals of internal medicine, 2002 – acpjournals.org
Safety of popular herbal supplements in lactating women by MR Amer, GC Cipriano, JV Venci… – Journal of Human …, 2015 – journals.sagepub.com
Panax ginseng by DS Kiefer, T Pantuso – American family physician, 2003 – aafp.org
The use of herbs by pregnant and childbearing women: a risk–benefit assessment by D Tiran – Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 2003 – Elsevier