Green tea with ginseng may be beneficial for some, but it can be harmful for others. While green tea is well-tolerated as a beverage, its extract has side effects. Ginseng is a herb that may be of value for certain maladies, but it has dangers of which you need to be aware as well.
Green tea is generally a healthful beverage. However, because ginseng has the potential to cause serious adverse effects, it may be better to drink plain green tea that doesn't contain this additional herb.
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Ginseng Benefits and Possible Uses
Two types of ginseng are available: American and Siberian. The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that American ginseng may possibly be helpful for diabetes and respiratory tract infections. Evidence doesn't show it as effective for improving athletic performance, and research is too preliminary to prove that it can address any other health issues.
The Siberian variety of ginseng may help treat diabetes, the common cold, bipolar syndrome and a viral condition called herpes simplex, notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Although limited studies suggest it may have value for other conditions, research is too preliminary to draw conclusions. Siberian ginseng has been called an adaptogen, a non-medical term that means it may increase resistance to stress.
Early studies indicate that ginseng might enhance male reproductive function, but further research is needed to prove its efficacy. A July 2013, study published in Spermatogenesis reviewed the body of research to date on this topic, and concluded that the herb might hold promise as a novel treatment option in this area.
Ginseng Side Effects
American ginseng may be safe if taken at recommended doses, on a short-term basis of up to 12 weeks. Side effects include insomnia, headaches, itching, diarrhea and nervousness. Although these reactions aren't terribly concerning, other possible adverse effects pose more of a danger in some people. These include a rapid heart beat, low blood pressure and high blood pressure. Liver damage and severe allergic reactions are rare, but they do occur.
Safety issues involving Siberian ginseng are rarely seen, but some people may experience heart rhythm abnormalities, anxiety, sadness, muscle spasms and other side effects. Large doses may cause high blood pressure.
Because of the potential for harmful cardiovascular effects, people with any type of heart condition should take this supplement only under medical supervision. As with any herb or supplement, consult your doctor before taking ginseng capsules, or a tea that contains ginseng.
Ginseng honey is honey that contains ginseng tea. The safety concerns associated with the herb also apply to this product.
According to the National Capital Poison Center, ginseng reacts negatively with certain herbs, prescribed medications and foods. It shouldn't be taken with alcohol, ephedra, caffeine or drugs such as antidepressants and blood thinners.
Green Tea Benefits and Downsides
Green tea contains antioxidants that may repair cell damage, but studies on its cancer-fighting effects are inconclusive, states the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Green tea also contains compounds with antibacterial properties.
Consumed as a beverage, green tea lowers LDL, or "bad cholesterol" and raises HDL, or "good cholesterol." Very preliminary research indicates that it may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and also prevent tooth decay.
You might have heard people recommending this tea for weight loss. A May 2014, study published in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal reviewed clinical trials on green tea extract, and found that it may result in an insignificant amount of weight reduction. Since the extract contains more of the active ingredients than the beverage, drinking green tea won't help someone lose weight.
All green tea, including varieties with added ginseng, contain caffeine, unless labeled decaffeinated. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says that too much caffeine can cause sleep disturbances, jitters and headaches.
Green tea, when consumed in moderate amounts, is safe for most people. Conversely, the extract has caused liver damage in a small number of consumers.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "American Ginseng"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Siberian Ginseng"
- Spermatogenesis: "Ginseng and Male Reproductive Function"
- National Capital Poison Center: "Side Effects of Ginseng Supplements"
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Green Tea"
- Canadian Pharmacists Journal: "Can Green Tea Preparations Help With Weight Loss?"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Green Tea"