Long-term intake of North American ginseng has no effect on 24-hour blood pressure and renal function.
Hypertension. 2006 Apr;47(4):791-6. Epub 2006 Mar 6. PMID: 16520410
Ginseng is consumed by 10% to 20% of adults in Asia and by up to 5% in Western countries. Despite observational evidence suggesting a link between its intake and the development of hypertension, there remains no long-term scrutiny for its effect on blood pressure (BP). We therefore undertook a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, crossover trial in 52 hypertensive individuals to determine the effect of 12-week North American ginseng intake on 24-hour BP; we also measured serum cystatin C as a marker of renal function. After a 4-week placebo run-in, we randomly assigned 52 participants to 3 g/day of ginseng or placebo for 12 weeks. This was followed by an 8-week washout and a subsequent 12-week period in which the opposite treatment was administered. At run-in and at weeks 0 and 12 of each treatment period, participants were fitted with an ambulatory BP monitor to assess 24-hour BP. The primary outcome was the treatment difference at week 12 in mean 24-hour systolic BP. Secondary outcomes were treatment differences at week 12 in other ambulatory BP parameters and serum cystatin C. Forty participants (77%) completed the trial, with 3 removed from main analysis (n=2, antihypertensive drug changes; n=1, incomplete ambulatory monitoring). In the remaining 37, 12-week ginseng treatment was associated with a neutral effect on all ambulatory BP parameters compared with placebo; an intention-to-treat analysis supported this. Ginseng did not affect serum cystatin C level. Overall, long-term ginseng use had no effect on 24-hour BP and renal function in hypertensive individuals.