Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/02/2020
By 2025, it’s projected 322 million men will be affected by erectile dysfunction. So if you’re having trouble getting it up (or keeping it up), you’re not alone. And if you haven’t had that problem yet, there’s a possibility it’s in your future.
In the search for a healthier, harder erection, you’ll find there are many possible solutions — a prescription from your healthcare provider, exercises and devices, and numerous supplements. Finding these solutions isn’t the hard part, though. Knowing which to try is.
Panax ginseng is one natural option that may be useful as an erectile dysfunction treatment. But it’s not a sure-thing.
Evidence on just how effective this treatment is is mixed. But if you’re curious about the product and what it might do for you, read on.
Panax ginseng is a root known by many names: Asian ginseng, Chinese ginseng, Asiatic ginseng and Korean ginseng, to name a few.
The “red” in Korean red ginseng refers to the preparation method. Korean “white” ginseng is the same plant, prepared differently.
There is limited evidence that Panax ginseng root may be effective in cardiovascular health, diabetes treatment, immune and psychological health.
Some research indicates Korean red ginseng may improve erection quality, sperm health and sex drive.
Panax ginseng is considered safe, though there are no studies on its long-term effects.
Panax is the latin name for Asian ginseng, native to Asia and has been used for a variety of health treatments for thousands of years. It is a root, also known as Chinese ginseng and Asiatic ginseng and Korean ginseng. It is closely related to American ginseng, and both varieties contain ginsenosides, which are credited for their health benefits.
Siberian ginseng, on the other hand, is a different plant entirely and doesn’t contain these active components.
The “red” in Korean red ginseng refers to a preparation method of the plant. Red ginseng root is steamed and dried Panax ginseng.
Korean white ginseng, on the other hand, is only dried.
Until 1996, there was a Japanese government monopoly on the Panax ginseng industry. While that monopoly is no longer in place, and private industry prepares Panax ginseng, the government-standardized production process is still used.
According to the process, ginseng is grown for six years, the dirt is shook off, roots washed and it’s steamed for one to three hours before drying by hot air and/or sun.
Panax ginseng is considered an adaptogen, something historically referred to as a “tonic.” Adaptogen is a broad term largely applied to alternative medicine that is believed to increase the general health and vitality of its users.
You can find a variety of Panax ginseng supplements commercially available, sometimes in formulas with multiple “natural” ingredients and others with only ginseng.
Panax ginseng is used to achieve many health goals, though the scientific evidence supporting many of those purposes isn’t strong.
The National Institutes of Health recognizes people use it for everything from depression and general well-being to erectile dysfunction and immune health. However, the agency also reiterates that our true understanding of Panax ginseng’s health benefits are still limited.
Their position is less about what Panax ginseng is capable of doing and more about the quality of existing scientific literature on the topic. They say that though there have been many studies on the effects of Panax ginseng in people, it’s not certain how many of those studies were high quality.
Here are a few of the reported benefits of red/Panax ginseng, and what we know about the evidence supporting them.
Heart health. There are mixed results in studies looking at the heart benefits of Korean ginseng. Some show that it raises blood pressure while others find the opposite. The effects may be dose-dependent.
Mental function. A few small studies have shown positive mental functioning effects with Panax ginseng. While study subjects experienced greater attention and processing, some of the benefits dissipated after eight weeks of treatment.
Diabetes. One study of just 36 newly diagnosed, non-insulin-dependent diabetics found Panax ginseng to reduce blood sugar levels and improve A1C measures (a charting of blood sugar management over time).
Immunity. A few different studies have indicated Panax ginseng may boost immune system function. One showed that it could boost the effectiveness of the flu vaccine; another that it improved measures of immune health, and yet another that showed it sped return to health after a bronchitis diagnosis when used in conjunction with an antibiotic.
In the treatment of erectile dysfunction, Korean ginseng is in a group of supplements deemed safe and well-tolerated by most people.
It’s believed the ginsenosides in ginseng work to treat ED in multiple ways. Researchers surmise potential cardiovascular benefits of Panax ginseng may reduce the risk of ED overall.
Also, ginseng may promote the release of nitric oxide, triggering erections by relaxing the smooth muscles of the penis.
And finally, the root could enhance sexual arousal by increasing energy levels and possibly affecting hormone regulation.
A 2002 study published in the Journal of Urology found Korean red ginseng to be an “effective alternative for treating” erectile dysfunction. The research analyzed the effects of Panax ginseng on 45 patients with ED over a period of 18 weeks.
Participants took 900mg. of the root three times daily and experienced higher erection rigidity, better erection maintenance, and improved erection quality.
Other studies have found Korean red ginseng to increase sperm count and motility, and sex drive.
Panax and Korean red ginseng are largely considered safe, but that doesn’t mean there are no potential side effects.
These possible side effects include:
Blood pressure abnormalities
Because of its possible blood sugar effects, diabetics should use caution if supplementing with Panax ginseng. It can also interfere with clotting, so is not recommended for people on blood thinning medications.
Finally, while short term use seems to be safe, long-term safety of korean red ginseng is unknown.
Panax ginseng is a root herb also known as Asian ginseng, Chinese ginseng, Asiatic ginseng and Korean red ginseng (among others). It’s thought to be an effective way to help mental health function, heart health, diabetes and even erectile dysfunction.
While the studies out there appear to support Panax ginseng’s efficacy as an erectile dysfunction treatment, the research is thin and more high quality research is definitely needed before we have a definitive answer.
That said, it’s also considered generally safe and well-tolerated in most people. If you’re interested in trying Panax ginseng, do your research, purchase products that are well-reviewed and, most importantly, talk to your healthcare provider about your options.
They’ll be able to point you in the ride direction.
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