Caution over using ginseng in early pregnancy
Ginseng is a small leafy plant that has a
taproot system. The root of the ginseng plant is the only part that has any
medicinal qualities and is traditionally considered a "cure-all".
It is used for stress related problems that affect the liver and heart. It also
is good to calm you down and put you in a relaxing mood. It is a stimulate to
relieve exhaustion and concentration issues.
Ginseng is a versatile
medicinal plant, it help alleviate symptoms of insomnia and stress.
But hold on, recent studies indicate that
ginsenoside Rb1 - one of the principal active components of ginseng - can cause
abnormalities in rat embryos, according to
Ivanhoe Newswire. Previous studies
suggest it is regularly used by pregnant women, particularly in Asian countries.
One study there, for example, found up to 10 percent of women had taken the
supplement while pregnant. Another recent survey found about 9 percent of
pregnant women were taking herbal supplements, including ginseng.
Dr Louis Chan and colleagues at the Chinese
University of Hong Kong Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, tested ginsenoside
Rb1 in various concentrations on 9-day old rat embryos.
They found that embryos exposed to more than 30 micrograms per
ginsenoside Rb1 had significantly lower morphological scores. Morphological
scores are a way of assessing the development of the important organs of
embryos: the higher the score, the more normal is the development of the embryo
At 30 micrograms the total morphological scores were significantly lower than
the scores of the control group, which had not been exposed to gensinoside - 35
as opposed to 45 - and they had lower scores for heart, limbs, eye development
and flexion. At the highest dose of 50 micrograms the total score fell to 28 and
the embryos were also significantly shorter in body length and had fewer somites
(muscle pre-cursor cells). Dr. Louis Chan, says, "Our study has
demonstrated that ginsenoside exerts a direct teratogenic effect on rat embryos:
that is to say it is capable of causing malformations in rat embryos."
He warned: "Before more information in humans
becomes available, women should be cautious about using ginseng in the first
three months of pregnancy and it is always advisable for pregnant women to
consult their doctor before taking any herbal supplement."
PDF version of this press release and full embargoed text of the
paper with complete results can be found from 09:00hrs London time Monday 22
http://www3.oup.co.uk/eshre/press-release/oct103.pdf or is available from
Dated 11 June 2012