The effect of ginseng (genus Panax) on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials
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Pre-clinical evidence indicates the potential for ginseng to reduce cardiovascular disease risk and acutely aid in blood pressure (BP) control. Clinical evidence evaluating repeated ginseng exposure, however, is controversial, triggering consumer and clinician concern. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to assess whether ginseng has an effect on BP. MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane and CINAHL were searched for relevant randomized controlled trials ⩾4 weeks that compared the effect of ginseng on systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP) and/or mean arterial (MAP) BPs to control. Two independent reviewers extracted data and assessed methodological quality and risk of bias. Data were pooled using random-effects models and expressed as mean differences (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Heterogeneity was assessed and quantified. Seventeen studies satisfied eligibility criteria (n=1381). No significant effect of ginseng on SBP, DBP and MAP was found. Stratified analysis, although not significant, appears to favour systolic BP improvement in diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity (MD=-2.76 mm Hg (95% CI=-6.40, 0.87); P=0.14). A priori subgroup analyses revealed significant association between body mass index and treatment differences (β=-0.95 mm Hg (95% CI=-1.56, -0.34); P=0.007). Ginseng appears to have neutral vascular affects; therefore, should not be discouraged for concern of increased BP. More high-quality, randomized, controlled trials assessing BP as a primary end point, and use of standardized ginseng root or extracts are warranted to limit evidence of heterogeneity in ginseng research and to better understand its cardiovascular health potential.
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