Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
Can you briefly tell me about ginseng and how it is hazardous to our health? Are vitamin capsules that list ginseng as an ingredient unsafe for consumption?
A: Ginseng (ren shen) has many applications in traditional Chinese medicine. Throughout history ginseng has been used for various ailments ranging from debility to the common cold. Its adaptogenic properties have been studied for cardiology, respiratory, and anti-aging applications.
As with most herbs, improper application, combination, or improper dosing may produce adverse effects. One of these effects is ginseng’s ability to raise blood pressure; it can induce hypertension and is not advised for patients who suffer from hypertension already. In my opinion, including these substances in multivitamin capsules should be cautioned because with improper dosing and inadequate diagnosis they may have adverse effects.