Pregnancy is a time to eat well, be happy and stress-free and at the same time be cautious of what is being consumed. Since it is a precarious time, it is vital to know about foods that would be beneficial and the ones that are not good for your health. Ginseng is one such food that is consumed all over the world. It is known to offer health benefits, reducing stress, boosting immunity, and combatting fatigue. Yet, it is not safe to consume anything during pregnancy without consulting the doctor. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of consuming anything as it affects both the mother and the baby. Let us understand some pointers related to ginseng, and whether it is safe to have ginseng during pregnancy.
What Is Ginseng?
Ginseng is one herb that is widely found in America and Asia as well. It is widely consumed as it offers many benefits. Popularly known as the “winter cherry” or “Ashwagandha”. It is known to boost the immunity system and even help in increasing the concentration levels and reducing stress levels as well. Ginseng is available in many types, it can be American ginseng, Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng, etc. American ginseng is used extensively in reducing blood sugar levels for patients with type 2 diabetes. It helps to reduce cholesterol levels and even helps in the prevention of cardiac ailments.
Even though it is beneficial, a common question is “Can ginseng cause miscarriage?” What if a pregnant lady accidentally had ginseng while pregnant”? To get an answer to these questions it is also vital to find out about the safety of consuming ginseng during pregnancy.
Related Reading: 18 Foods That Can Cause Miscarriage In Early Pregnancy
Types Of Ginseng
Ginseng comes in many varieties, the most common of them being American and Asian ginseng. The Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) belongs to China and Korea. A very important component of traditional Chinese medicines for many years now. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is found in North America, specifically Canada.
The root of the ginseng is dried and used to make:
Is Ginseng Safe During Pregnancy
Ginseng is known to cause excessive heat in the body. Consuming ginseng during pregnancy is not recommended and should be prevented to avoid any side effects. This herbal supplement during the first trimester of pregnancy is not a good choice as it is not good for the fetus or the mother-to-be.
Ginseng Rb1 is one of the chemicals found in ginseng. This active chemical is related to developing defective embryos in rats and research also proves it is not good for the mother. According to pre-clinical trials, it shows a defect in the growing embryo. Overdose in a healthy woman leads to ginseng abuse syndrome. This causes vaginal bleeding, hormonal imbalance, diarrhea, and headaches. Herbal teas like Kahwa also have Ginseng, so it is not advisable to have it unless the doctor gives a go-ahead for the same1.
Research on the effect of ginseng on pregnant women is very limited. It is not possible to do a proper controlled study or observation when it is not safe and ethical in rats or mice. It is a way for scientists to rely on the study of animals like mice or rats for testing the safety of herbal supplements and drugs. The study on animals cannot be the same on humans but it is a way to alert health experts of potential threats.
Related Reading: 11 Simple Ways To Boost Immunity During Pregnancy
8 Reasons Ginseng Is Not Recommended During Pregnancy
Ginseng is generally not recommended during pregnancy. Though it has potential benefits, it is not a good option for pregnant women. It is well known for improving cognitive functions like thinking, memory, concentration, as well as physical endurance. But there are many side-effects of this herb as well which cannot be overlooked. Some of them are:
1. Risk of birth defects
Ginseng has an active chemical called ginsenoside Rb1 that is related to defects in the embryos of animals in preclinical tests. Due to this, health experts advise not to consume ginseng during pregnancy at all. It is not at all a safe option for pregnant women2.
2. Risk of bleeding
As per research, consuming Korean ginseng during pregnancy can result in an estrogen-like effect on the vagina. This can also increase the threat of vaginal bleeding. So, even having tea with ginseng or a supplement is equally dangerous for the health of both the mother and the baby. Ginseng also has anticoagulant properties which can pose a threat during pregnancy. It can obstruct the blood from clotting and can even result in issues related to childbirth or even later.
3. Ginseng can cause diarrhea
Diarrhea is a common side effect that is seen during pregnancy. Consuming ginseng tea during pregnancy can lead to loose and watery stools after consumption. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration that can be dangerous for the health of the fetus. If you accidentally had ginseng tea or ginseng extract during pregnancy, it is important to keep yourself hydrated and even consult a doctor immediately3.
4. Disturbs sleep
Consuming ginseng during pregnancy can even lead to disturbed sleep in pregnant women. Having green tea and ginseng during pregnancy can even result in waking up several times leading to restlessness. Sleep deprivation during pregnancy can result in fatigue. It can deteriorate the health of a mother, ending up with less stamina and more mood swings. This is not favorable for the healthy progression of the pregnancy4.
5. Dry mouth
Many pregnant women who had consumed ginseng tea during pregnancy have complained of having a dry mouth as well. This is due to the lack of function of the salivary glands caused by the enzymes present in ginseng. Other factors that contribute to dry mouth during pregnancy are stress, medications, and anxiety. If these reasons are already resulting in a dry mouth, consuming ginseng can worsen it more5.
Related Reading: 9 Home Remedies For Bitter Taste In Mouth During Pregnancy
6. Ginseng lowers blood sugar
It is seen that many pregnant women develop the risk of gestational diabetes and are not aware of it. Consuming ginseng can result in dizziness which is due to imbalances in the blood sugar level. This also results in a low heartbeat. Both signs are not good for the mother or the baby6.
7. Can cause headaches
Ginseng or ginseng tea can also result in headaches and pain in the neck and face muscles of the pregnant woman. This can boost morning sickness and mood swings as well. Overall, the condition will keep on deteriorating. Since headaches are common, we recommend these home remedies for headaches during pregnancy.
8. Ginseng can disrupt hormones
Taking ginseng or ginseng tea during pregnancy can also cause hormone disruption and hormonal imbalance7. A pregnant woman’s hormones control her baby’s health, regulate her growth, and trigger her labor. An imbalance of hormones during pregnancy can result in gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, high or low birth weight, and even miscarriage.
Can Ginseng Cause Fetal Growth Problems?
Consuming Ginseng has been seen to cause malformations in the rat embryos. These studies have been done at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Pre-clinical trials show that rat and mice fetuses show fewer muscle cells and short-length babies are born. However, more studies are required to gauge if consuming ginseng during pregnancy can even lead to fetal growth problems in humans.
Thus, after knowing the side effects of consuming ginseng during pregnancy in any form, it is advisable to refrain totally from taking it. It should be eliminated from the diet of a pregnant lady. Only the health supplements recommended by the doctor should be taken or the diet can even be consulted with a good nutritionist.
If the pregnant woman accidentally had ginseng extracts, ginseng, or ginseng tea, it is best to show a doctor immediately and keep oneself hydrated as well.
Ginseng can lead to dehydration during pregnancy and dryness of the mouth, so it is important to replenish it with more water and fluids.
Pregnancy is a time to look for safer options. All types of tea, however, are not safe during pregnancy. Having black tea or green tea in moderation is advisable.
Yet, green tea with ginseng, licorice, ginseng tea, Kahwa, and Dong Quai is not recommended at all. Avoiding black and blue cohosh is also not a safe bet as it can result in miscarriage and preterm delivery. Having dong Quai tea can even result in uterine contractions which result in miscarriage.
Ginseng tea can even result in growth impairment and birth defects as well.
Ginseng is a beneficial herb and very effective for improving memory, preventing degenerative brain ailments like Alzheimer’s. Its neuroprotective effect even prevents depression.
Few studies show that ginseng can also give a small boost to learning as well as concentration. No conclusive results are stated so its safety is still questionable during pregnancy.
During the first trimester, it is best for the mother and the baby to avoid ginseng and other medications that haven’t been prescribed by their doctor.
Ginseng is not a safe herb to be taken during pregnancy. No conclusive evidence has been found for the same. Yet some research and pre-clinical trials suggest that its consumption can be harmful to the developing baby.
It is not worth the risk to even try. Having Panax ginseng during pregnancy requires caution and doctors’ consultation as well.