Concern about the safety of ginseng occurred when high blood pressure developed and disorders involving body fluids and minerals, especially potassium, were found in ginseng users. The symptoms became collectively known as the 'ginseng abuse syndrome'. There are a wide range of biologically active components in ginseng and some of these show a hormone-like activity which may be of some benefit. However, the benefits of ginseng use must be balanced against the disadvantages of excessive use. The risks are likely to outweigh the benefits, but it is intriguing that it should be so widely used in Korea without documented advantage.