Welcome to the Mood Disorders Forum. Questions in this forum are being answered by Peter Forster, MD and topics covered are anxiety, bipolar, depression, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and stress.
One problem with many natural supplements is that there is no real quality control. Another problem is that many kinds of tests that are done on medications before they are approved (for instance, what the effects of the medicine is on the liver's ability to metabolize other medications) are usually not done on supplements. The most reliable source of information about natural supplements comes from Consumer Lab which is the only place in the US that does testing of supplements. Reviewing the information about ginseng I note that about half of all ginseng supplements did not meet their quality standards, either because their tests didn't find that the supplement actually had the claimed amount of ginseng in it, or because of lead or pesticide contamination. Also, there is not good evidence that ginseng helps with depression. Finally, although ginseng has been reported to interact negatively with warfarin, and may be harmful for people with breast cancer, there is no information that I could find out about whether it does or doesn't interact with contraceptives.
The three supplements that we feel do have some evidence for efficacy for depression are - fish oil, S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), and St. John's Wort (hypericum). Of these, fish oil and SAMe are the least likely to interact with contraceptives. All three, however, have potential quality issues in CL testing, so I suggest buying a subscription to their testing service before making a long term investment in a supplement.
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