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Fish Oil and Panax Ginseng Interactions

By Sarah Terry

Both fish oil and Panax ginseng are widely-available supplements that offer a variety of potential health benefits. Panax ginseng is also known as Korean or Asian ginseng. Panax ginseng and fish oil supplements can interact negatively with several prescription and over-the-counter medications, causing potentially life-threatening effects. Before you begin taking fish oil or Panax ginseng, consult your doctor about drug interactions and other health dangers.

Fish Oil Benefits

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous beneficial functions in your body and appear to stimulate the production of prostaglandins, chemicals in your body that regulate inflammatory responses. Fish oil provides anti-inflammatory actions, and it reduces triglycerides, homocysteine levels, blood clotting, blood pressure and heart rate while increasing HDL or “good cholesterol” levels and enhancing blood-vessel tone. These benefits can help reduce your risks for cardiovascular disease, strokes and heart attacks, according to the UPMC. You might take fish oil supplements to help prevent cancer, or to treat asthma, colitis, cystic fibrosis, schizophrenia, depression and high cholesterol, says the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Fish oil is also sometimes recommended for treating rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, osteoporosis, diabetic neuropathy, dysmenorrhea, lupus, liver disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy, kidney stones, and many other health conditions, notes the UPMC.

Panax Ginseng Benefits

Panax ginseng seems to have adaptogen-like effects on the body, meaning that it helps your body cope with physical and mental stresses, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. The UMMC reports Panax ginseng also provides potential immunity-boosting, antioxidant, hypoglycemic and anticancer effects. Panax ginseng could help treat type 2 diabetes, stress, low immune-system function and infertility or erectile dysfunction, according to the UMMC. It could also help maintain your overall health, support HIV/AIDS treatments, improve your blood clotting, reduce pain and enhance your physical strength or stamina.

Fish Oil Interactions

Both Panax ginseng and fish oil can interact negatively with blood-thinning medications like Coumadin and aspirin, but in different ways. Fish oil could increase the blood-thinning effects of Coumadin, aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, causing potential bleeding risks, says the UPMC. Fish oil has no other known drug interactions.

Panax Ginseng Interactions

Unlike fish oil, Panax ginseng, on the other hand, could reduce the effects of blood-thinners, notes the UMMC. Panax ginseng can interfere with ACE inhibitors and calcium-channel blockers for high blood pressure. The herb may also reduce the pain-relieving effects of morphine and increase the effects of stimulants like caffeine and Adderall or Ritalin used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Taking Panax ginseng with monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, could cause mania and with insulin or sulfonylureas could increase the blood sugar-lowering effects, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.


In addition to certain drug interactions, fish oil can cause side effects like nausea, loose stools and a fishy taste in the mouth, says the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Fish oil supplements could also temporarily cause weight gain, increased LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels and reduced HDL or “good cholesterol” levels, warns the UPMC. Panax ginseng may cause side effects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as difficulty sleeping, nervousness, dry mouth and irregular heartbeat. High doses of Panax ginseng could cause anxiety, high blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, breast pain, headaches and nosebleeds, cautions the UMMC. If you have breast cancer, bipolar disorder, high or low blood pressure, diabetes or hypoglycemia, Panax ginseng may be unsafe to take.

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