Benefits and Harms of Ginseng Supplementation on Liver Function? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2020 May;39:101173. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101173. Epub 2020 Apr 15.


Objective: Existing evidence on the possible effects of ginseng on liver function has not been fully established. Therefore, the present review was undertaken to evaluate the overall effects of ginseng supplementation on liver enzymes in adults.

Methods: A systematic computerized literature search of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library and Google scholar databases was conducted up to May 2019. All RCTs using ginseng supplements in adults were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis.

Results: Overall, 14 randomized trials (with 20 arms) including 992 subjects were identified. Pooled analysis did not illustrate any significant changes in alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and albumin (ALB) levels, however, it showed a minor significant increase in bilirubin (BIL) levels. Subgroup analysis by dosage and study population revealed significant increase of bilirubin after ginseng supplementation ≥3 g/day or in unhealthy individuals.

Conclusion: Ginseng appears to have neither hepatoprotective nor hepatotoxic effects in conventional doses and duration. It is noteworthy that this seems applicable only for individuals with healthy liver function. Further largescale studies are warranted to confirm present findings.

Keywords: Alanine aminotransferase (ALT); Aspartate aminotransferase (AST); Ginseng; Liver enzyme; Meta-analysis; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review