Panax ginseng, also referred to as Chinese ginseng or Asian ginseng, is an herb that has been used in China to treat fatigue, arthritis, loss of memory, low libido and other maladies. Today, it is used in the Western world for a variety of purposes, including improving energy levels and enhancing mental focus. According to David Kiefer of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, doses of 200mg per day are common, and might provide optimal benefits. Although some people choose to take larger doses of 600mg per day or more, larger doses might increase the risk of side effects.
Ginseng Abuse Syndrome
The most common side effect of taking large doses of panax ginseng is a condition known as ginseng abuse syndrome. According to Michael Castleman, author of "The Healing Herbs," GAS is characterized by nervousness, insomnia and blood pressure changes. However, the symptoms of GAS might be more closely linked to desert ginseng, which is similar but not identical to panax ginseng. Studies evaluating the presence of GAS do not indicate whether desert ginseng may have been used along with panax ginseng.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, panax ginseng might interact negatively with caffeine when both are taken in large doses. Most commonly, panax ginseng amplifies the stimulant properties of caffeine, leading to a sense of jitteriness and loss of mental focus. The herb's interaction with caffeine might also produce insomnia.
Physical Side Effects
Large doses of panax ginseng might produce physical side effects in addition to insomnia and loss of focus. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the most common side effects include headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. Other physical symptoms of panax ginseng overdose include vaginal bleeding, nosebleeds and chest pain. You should consult a medical professional immediately if you experience any of these side effects.
Large doses of panax ginseng can produce hypoglycemia, which is a condition in which the blood sugar is abnormally low. Hypoglycemia is characterized by fatigue and disorientation. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, panax ginseng can even cause hypoglycemia in people who do not have diabetes.
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Panax Ginseng
- "The Healing Herbs"; Michael Castleman; 1991
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Asian Ginseng