Panax ginseng has a long history of use in the East as a treatment for male impotence. Until recently these claims have all been anecdotal. Emerging science, however, is beginning to shed light on ginseng’s ability to alleviate the symptoms of erectile dysfunction in otherwise healthy men.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at 5 compelling studies that demonstrate the beneficial effects Panax ginseng has on the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Ginseng and Erectile Dysfunction
Study 1: A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of Korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: a preliminary report. A study conducted out of the department of urology at Asan Medical Center investigated the efficacy of Korean red ginseng in the treatment for erectile dysfunction. A total of 45 patients diagnosed with clinical erectile dysfunction underwent an 18-week double-blind, placebo controlled study where they were orally dosed with 900mg of Panax ginseng three times daily.
After the 18-week study concluded, participants were asked a series of questions related to the quality and duration of their erections. The results showed that on a number of different subjective metrics, the participants who had been given a Panax ginseng supplement experienced higher quality and longer lasting erections than participants who had been given a placebo.
In addition to the subjective questions regarding erection quality, RigiScan results showed that participants who were given the ginseng supplement also had higher levels of penile-tip rigidity when compared to the placebo group.
Study 2: Study of the efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Another study carried out at Brazil’s Sao Paulo University was conducted under similar guidelines to the study above. In this study, however, participants were given 1000mg of Panax ginseng three times daily over 12 weeks. The researchers found that 67% of those who supplemented with ginseng experienced a subjective improvement in both the rigidity and duration of their erections. Participants who received a placebo experienced no such improvements.
The results of this study led the Brazilian researchers to the following conclusion: “Our data show that Korean red ginseng can be an effective alternative to the invasive approaches for treating male ED.”
Interestingly, this study also measured participant’s serum testosterone, prolactin, and cholesterol levels and found no significant differences post-study between the ginseng group and the placebo group. This indicates that ginseng’s ability to treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction operate independently of elevating hormone levels.
Study 3: Effects of tissue-cultured mountain ginseng (Panax ginseng CA Meyer) extract on male patients with erectile dysfunction. A 2009 study performed at a South Korean university tested the effects on erectile dysfunction through tissue-cultured mountain ginseng, a subspecies of the more widely studied Korean red ginseng. In this study, participants were dosed with 1000mg of mountain ginseng twice per day, rather than three times per day as the other studies had done.
This finding may suggest that other forms of ginseng than the Korean red variety contain compounds that help improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction in otherwise healthy men.
Study 4: Clinical efficacy of Korean red ginseng for erectile dysfunction. This interesting study conducted at the Severance Institute of Andrology Research sheds additional light on ginseng’s effect on men’s sexual health. Like the three previous studies, the researchers out of Yonsei University found that men treated with a Panax ginseng supplement experienced a significant level of relief from their erectile dysfunction.
However, this study also demonstrated that while 60% of participants experienced improvements in their symptoms, none of the participants suffered from any worsening of their symptoms. In other words, this study indicates that ginseng does not carry any risk of increasing the level of erectile dysfunction symptoms, making it a very low risk option for those who wish to explore natural remedies for their ED.
Study 5: Clinical efficacy of Korea red ginseng on vasculogenic impotent patients. The last study we’ll examine was focused on ginseng’s effect on vasculogenic impotence, a form of mild erectile dysfunction caused by inadequate arterial blood flow to and from the penis. Duplex sonography of the cavernous artery, Rigiscan nocturnal penile tumescence monitoring, and a modified Watts sexual function questionnaire were carried out both before and after 3 months of treatment with Korean red ginseng.
Like the other studies we’ve discussed, participants who were treated with Panax ginseng scored higher levers of self-reported sexual satisfaction when compared to the placebo group. Other testing metrics, such as duplex sonography and penile tumescence monitoring, did not show a statistically significant effect. However, the researchers attribute this lack of confirmed statistical significance on the study’s small sample size. In the end, the researches felt comfortable enough speculating that their findings “…might reflect a relaxation effect of ginseng on corpus cavernosal smooth muscle, which has been demonstrated in vitro.” This is tantalizing evidence that Panax ginseng is able to treat the symptoms of ED without affecting a user’s hormone levels.
While the exact mechanisms behind Panax ginseng’s positive effect on the symptoms of erectile dysfunction remain hidden, research has come a long way in proving that the benefits exist, and that countless men suffering from both mild and severe ED could potentially benefit from ginseng supplementation.
What the Doctor Recommends
How is erectile dysfunction treated?
Erectile dysfunction is primarily treated by tackling the cause of the problem, whether this is physical or psychological.
A number of treatments have been successful in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Medication, such as sildenafil (sold as Viagra), can be used to manage it in at least two-thirds of cases. Vacuum pumps that encourage blood to flow to the penis and cause an erection are also successful in 90% of cases.
Psychological treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and sex therapy. Overall, treatments for erectile dysfunction have improved significantly in recent years. Most men are eventually able to have sex again.