Ginseng supplements lacking in quality, report finds

Ginseng effectiveness questioned.
Ginseng effectiveness questioned.

Ginseng supplements, popular with consumers for their perceived energy-boosting benefit and effectiveness against the common cold, often carry less ginseng than indicated by their labels and have other ingredients, according to a newly released report.

ConsumerLab.com, an independent testing organization that reviews health and wellness products, selected 11 supplements and found that five were either contaminated with lead and pesticides or did not contain the amount of ginseng they claimed. The findings stress a recurring pattern of problems with ginseng supplements, which the company has reported since 2000.

"People should recognize that there is enormous variation in the amount of ginsenosides -- key ginseng compounds -- in marketed supplements," said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab. "We found most products to provide between 10 to 40 mg of ginsenosides per day, but some yielded much higher amounts, including one that delivered a whopping 304 mg."