What is ginseng?

Like taurine, many people think ginseng boosts mental or physical performance, but there is little scientific research to support that theory. On the contrary, according to the American Cancer Society, “Ginseng should be used cautiously, as it can cause undesirable side effects in high doses and may even be dangerous when taken with certain medicines or if the patient is undergoing surgery.”

The New York Times published an extensive article on ingredients such as ginseng in 2013, under the headline, “Energy Drinks Promise Edge, but Experts Say Proof Is Scant,” in which author Barry Meier notes that “the energy drink industry is based on a brew of ingredients that, apart from caffeine, have little, if any benefit for consumers.”

Much like caffeine, in large quantities ginseng can cause overstimulation, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, headache, and insomnia. The problem is that we don’t know exactly how much ginseng is in an energy drink’s “energy blend.” Additionally, ginseng should not be consumed by people with high blood pressure, those with hyperactivity or insomnia, those with colds or flus, or by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Yet, energy drink labels make no mention of the quantity of ginseng or its potential side effects.