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 milliliter of 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."


Note:
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 September. http://www3.oup.co.uk/eshre/press-release/oct103.pdf or is available from Margaret Willson.


Dated 11 June 2012

 

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