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Although there are reports of ginseng causing hypertension, red ginseng is actually used as an antihypertensive agent in Korea.

Acute administration of an aqueous preparation of Korean ginseng (100 mg/kg body weight) to 12 healthy, non-smoking male volunteers resulted in an increase in NO levels and a concomitant reduction in mean blood pressure and heart rate (Han et al 2005).

Ginseng is often used in practice as an adjuvant to both conventional and CAM treatments. An open clinical study of 44 hypertensive patients found red ginseng, 1.5 g three times daily (4.5 g/day), to be useful as an adjuvant to antihypertensive medication (Han et al 1995). A combination of red ginseng and digoxin was found to be more beneficial than either drug alone in an open study of advanced congestive heart failure. There were no adverse reactions (Ding et al 1995). A combination of ginseng and ginkgo extracts has been found to improve circulation and lower blood pressure in a controlled single-dose study of 10 healthy young volunteers (Kiesewetter etal 1992).

Korean red ginseng has also been shown to improve vascular endothelial function in patients with hypertension. The effect is thought to be mediated through increasing the synthesis of nitric oxide (Sung et al 2000).

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