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6 Health Benefits of Ginseng

The Chinese have been using ginseng for centuries as a traditional Chinese medicine. Ginseng has two substantial compounds: ginsenosides and gintonin.

These compounds in ginseng complement each other to provide health benefits (1).

1. It Can Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Research has shown that ginseng can be a useful alternative for erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment in men (2, 3).

Compounds in it can protect the blood vessels and tissues in the penis against oxidative stress (4, 5).

Studies have shown that ginseng can promote nitric oxide development (6).

A compound that improves penile muscle relaxation and increases blood circulation.

One study found that men treated with Korean red ginseng had an improvement of 60% in ED symptoms, compared to an improvement of 30% provided by a drug used to treat ED (7).

In addition, another study showed that 86 people with ED had significant improvements in erectile function (8).

Overall satisfaction increased after eight weeks of taking 1000 mg of aged ginseng extract. We need further research to draw definite conclusions on the impact of ginseng on erectile dysfunction.

2. Can Increase Energy Levels

Different animal studies have linked certain components in ginseng, such as polysaccharides and oligopeptides, with lower oxidative stress and higher cell energy production that can prevent fatigue (9, 10, 11).

One four-week study explored the impact of providing 1 or 2 grams of Panax ginseng or a placebo to 90 fatigued people (12).

Those with Panax ginseng experienced less physical and mental fatigue than those taking placebos, as well as reductions in oxidative stress.

Another study of 364 cancer survivors took 2,000 mg of American ginseng or a placebo (13). Eight weeks later, those in the ginseng group had lower levels of fatigue than those in the placebo group. A review of over 155 studies suggested that ginseng supplements may not only help reduce tiredness but also increase physical activity (14).

3. May Reduce Inflammation in The Body

Ginseng has powerful antioxidant and antiviral effects (15).

Some test-tube studies have shown that ginseng extracts, such as ginsenoside, can inhibit inflammation and increase cell antioxidant potential (16, 17).

One test-tube analysis, for example, showed that Korean red ginseng extract decreased inflammation and enhanced antioxidant activity in the skin cells of people with eczema (18).

The findings, however, are positive in humans. Research found that 18 young male athletes spent seven days taking 2 grams of Korean red ginseng extract three times a day (19).

After doing an exercise test, the men then had levels of certain inflammatory markers. These levels were lower than those in the placebo group and lasted up to 72 hours after testing.

It should be noted that a specific medicinal herb was offered to the placebo group, so we need more studies.

Finally, a larger study followed 71 postmenopausal women who spent 12 weeks taking 3 grams of red ginseng or a placebo daily (20).

It then measured the antioxidant activity and the oxidative stress markers. Researchers concluded that red ginseng has the benefit of reducing oxidative stress by increasing the production of antioxidant enzymes.

4. May Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Ginseng appears to be beneficial for blood glucose control in diabetic and non-diabetic people (21, 22).

American and Asian ginseng can improve the function of pancreatic cells, boost insulin production, and increase blood sugar uptake in the cells.

In addition, studies show that ginseng extracts help by providing protection by reducing free radicals in those with diabetic cells (21).

One study tested the effects of 6 grams of Korean red ginseng in 19 people with type 2 diabetes, along with the usual anti-diabetic drug or diet. Ironically, during the 12-week analysis, they maintained good blood sugar control (22).

They also experienced an 11% decrease in blood sugar levels, a 38% decrease in fasting insulin, and insulin sensitivity increased by 33%.

Another study showed that American ginseng helped 10 healthy people improve their blood sugar levels after a sugar beverage drink test (23).

Fermented red ginseng is even more effective at controlling blood sugar (24).

Using live bacteria, they produce fermented ginseng, which transforms the ginsenosides into a more absorbed and potent form.

A study shows that taking 2.7 grams of red ginseng daily is effective in lowering blood sugar and increasing insulin levels after a test compared to taking a placebo (25).

It has been reported that American ginseng attenuates hyperglycemia and may be a supplement to diabetes therapy. However, the lack of standardization in using ginseng root leads to inconclusive results when used in the treatment of diabetes. The mechanisms of American ginseng root in the treatment of diabetes remain a mystery.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Dec;6(4):423-7. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nem178. ePub 2008 Jan 3. Retraction in: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Nov 24; 2020: 1698627. PMID: 18955300; PMCID: PMC2781779.

5. May Enhance the Immune System

Ginseng can strengthen the immune system. One study looked at 39 people who recovered from stomach cancer surgery (26).

They treated them with 5,400 mg of ginseng daily for two years. Interestingly, these individuals have had significant improvements in immune function and lower symptom recurrence.

Another study examined the effect of red ginseng extract on markers of the immune system in people with advanced stomach cancer undergoing postoperative chemotherapy (27).

Those taking red ginseng extract after three months had a better immune system than the control or placebo group. In addition, a study suggested that people taking ginseng may have a higher chance of living a disease-free life (28).

It would appear that ginseng extract could also boost the effects of vaccinations on diseases such as influenza (29).

Although these studies show changes in immune system markers in people with cancer, we need further research to show ginseng’s effectiveness in improving healthy people’s resistance to infections (30).

6. Can Boost The Brain Function

Ginseng can help improve functions in the brain, such as memory, behavior, and mood (31, 32).

Some test-tube and animal studies show that components in ginseng, such as ginsenosides and compound K, may protect the brain (33, 34, 35).

One study tracked 30 healthy people who, for four weeks, took 200 mg of Panax ginseng daily (36).

They have shown improvement in mental health and mood.

After 8 weeks, these benefits stopped, showing that ginseng’s effects could diminish with prolonged use. Another study examined either 200 or 400 mg of Panax ginseng before and after a 10-minute mental test (37).

The 200-mg dose was more effective in enhancing mental performance and fatigue compared to the 400-mg dose.

Ginseng may have helped cells absorb blood sugar, which could have improved performance and decreased mental fatigue.

But why the lower dose was more effective than the higher one is not clear. Eight days of study, taking 400 mg of Panax ginseng a day, increased calmness and math skills (38).

Also, in people with Alzheimer’s disease, other studies found positive effects on brain function and behavior (39, 40, 41).


Ginseng is effective in controlling blood sugar levels and protecting against certain diseases.

In addition, ginseng can boost the immune system, enhance brain function, combat fatigue, and improve erectile dysfunction symptoms.

Depending on how long they grow, there are three ways to classify this slow-growing, short plant with fleshy roots: fresh, white, or red.

New ginseng is harvested for 4 years, white ginseng is harvested for 4–6 years, and red ginseng is harvested for 6 years or more.

Naeem Durrani BSc
I am a retired pharmacist, nutritionist, and food system expert. My interests include medical research and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to transform their lives.


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