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Ginseng and pregnancy. Is it safe?

Know your ginseng

Popular ginseng include American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and the more potent Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) for ‘weak constitution’(体虚) women. I will discuss on Asian ginseng which is a Qi-tonifying herb and promotes well-being. Studies suggested that ginseng also improves your immune system, enhance brain function and fight fatigue.

TCM view of pregnancy

During pregnancy, the mother’s blood is used in the form of Yin(阴) and Blood(血) to nourish the developing foetus, thus your pregnant body is in a relatively yang(阳) state, causing you to feel warmer. In Western medicine, the elevated progesterone hormone during pregnancy leads to increased blood flow to the skin and making you feel warmer. Hence there is a TCM saying: “In pre-natal stage, foetus is usually warm” (胎前多热).

Ginseng and pregnancy

By its nature, ginseng is warm and if it is consumed during pregnancy, further depletion of Yin and Blood will occur, resulting in further ‘heatiness’ in your body. Eventually this may cause a TCM symptom known as ‘Fetal irritability’. (胎动不安), also known as threatened miscarriage in medical term. Henceforth we should not see ginseng as an omnipotent tonic that can be consumed in any circumstances.

Furthermore, recent research has shown that ginseng have anticoagulant properties, therefore its consumption is also not recommended before labour and in delivery to avoid postpartum haemorrhage.

Thus, I would not recommend Asian ginseng in pregnancy.

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