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Dr. Alex Tatevian has maintained a monthly acupuncture column in the health section of the Federal Hill Gazette since 1999.      
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  Federall Hill Gazette; May 2001

Ginseng. What does it do? Is it safe?

At an herbal store I was advised to take ginseng. What does it do? Is it safe?

   I do not know what your motivation is for taking ginseng; otherwise, I could answer you more specifically. Generally speaking, ginseng is a very mild and non-toxic medicinal herb. Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
   However, you must be careful with ginseng, if you have high blood pressure. The cardiovascular effects of ginseng have been studied extensively. Short-term dilation of blood vessels in some cases is followed by vasoconstriction and an increase in blood pressure. There are reports of side effects including acute hypertension, sleeplessness, erratic behavior, diarrhea, and skin eruptions after a short course of high-dose ginseng treatment.
   Ginseng has stimulatory effects on physical capacity, libido, alertness, and powers of concentration, especially in the elderly and those recovering from illness.
   Though the mechanism of ginseng action remains unclear, after intensive pharmacological investigations over the last 50 years, ginseng has developed a great reputation for marked effects on the body.It stimulates the immune system, cellular metabolism, and endocrine functions. It has been referred to as a “panacea”.
   There are no known drug interactions with ginseng.
   Lastly, if you take somebody's advise about Chinese herbs; please make sure that the person is a Diplomat in Chinese Herbology by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). This will guarantee that the person is a competent professional and not someone who is just trying to sell you merchandise.
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