Ginseng safe for children?

August 11, 2008

Previously ginseng has been highly recommended as an immune system tonic, but mainly suitable for men and post menopausal women. The Red Army famously uses ginseng to help with stamina and endurance, but some new research seems to indicate that it can also be used safely for short term use when treating children with cold and flu symptoms.

Sunita Vohra, M.D., M.Sc., of the University of Alberta tested an over-the-counter ginseng supplement and found it was well tolerated in children without any serious adverse effects if used just for treating common cold symptoms. As this is a self-limiting illness the supplementwas only given for a short period and presumably helped by stimulating the child’s own natural immune defences to be more effective in combating the cold.

The effects of supplements on children has not much been studied – nor indeed as I have previously reported have the effects of drugs such as statins which are currently being prescribed to them. As it is estimated that 41% to 45% of children in Canada and the United States use natural health products, then it seems about time a comprehensive study was done. George Rylance, a paediatrician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, who helps to produce the British National Formulary for Children, said that dosages must be tailored for each child, calculated by weight and age.

The standard adult dose of a ginseng supplement for treating a cold is three times daily at 600 mg on day one, 400 mg on day two, and 200 mg on day three. The dosage was adjusted for children according to weight and their standard dose 26 mg/kg per day on day one, 17 mg/kg/day on day two, and 9 mg/kg/day on day three. Children weighing more than 45 kg were given the standard adult dose. They received a liquid form of ginseng which they were given in orange juice – not sure if they added in any benefit from the vitamin C or not.

The result on safety over a short term was conclusive, it was fine, and there was some indication that the ginseng was effective in reducing the duration of the symptoms of the cold. The maker of the ginseng product used in the study, CV Technologies, plans to start a larger randomized efficacy trial in children within the next year, as it seems to be an effective treatment for upper respiratory tract infection.


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