PURPOSE: Ginseng is the dried root of one of several species of the Araliaceae family of herbs. The most commonly used type is Panax ginseng, often sold as Korean ginseng. At present, ginseng is widely used in some populations as a tonic agent and several tonic products with ginseng as a remedy are currently on the market. Until now, there has been rare case of allergic rhinitis, anaphylaxis and occupational asthma caused by ginseng. Geumsan is a province of ginseng and has been the most famous producing place of Korea ginseng. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of sensitization to Korean ginseng and its association with allergic symptoms in geumsan country.
METHODS: Allergen skin prick tests with 33 common inhalant allergens including Korean ginseng were done in 100 patients who had visited allergy clinic for evaluation of chronic cough (>3 weeks). The patients were divided into three groups according to the residence (geumsan, daejeon, chungnam). The clinical characteristics of patients were analyzed.
RESULTS: According to the residence, the number of enrolled patients was 21 (geumsan), 57 (daejeon), and 22 (chungnam). The sensitization rates to ginseng were 9.5% in geumsan (2/21), 15.8% in daejeon (9/57), and 9% in chungnam (2/22), respectively. All patients with ginseng sensitization have positive skin test against other inhalant allergen also. However, no one diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, oral allergy syndrome but only two patients diagnosed with asthma. The residence of two asthma patients was daejeon. Of two asthma patients, one patient was sensitized to dog, tree pollens, grass pollens, weed pollens and the other was sensitized to mite, weed pollens also. And there was no symptom relation to ginseng on history taking.
CONCLUSION: The sensitization rate to Korean ginseng was not high in geumsan compared to surrounding areas (daejeon, chungnam). The Korean ginseng showed no association with allergy diseases.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Korean ginseng has no clinical significance as inhalant allergen. And further study will be needed to elucidate cross-reactivity with other inhalant allergens.
DISCLOSURE: Yang Deok Lee, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information