Many men experience symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED) as they age. Also known as impotence, ED is an occasional (or prolonged) inability to get or maintain an erection. When ED occurs frequently, you might need treatment for an underlying health issue.
In this way, ED is important to address. Lifestyle changes, medications, and natural or alternative treatments can all help restore normal sexual function.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by psychological problems. In many cases, there’s a physiological cause like diabetes, nerve damage, or heart disease. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising, and giving up smoking and alcohol, can often help with ED.
Lifestyle changes may not be enough to alleviate symptoms. Fortunately, medications are often effective. Medication injections that dilate blood vessels are another option. Certain herbal supplements, like ginseng, may also help. Make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any kind of supplement.
Korean Red Ginseng
Korean red ginseng is a plant that grows in Asia. It’s sometimes known as Asian ginseng, Chinese ginseng, or panax ginseng. Korean red ginseng should not be confused with Siberian ginseng or American ginseng. Siberian and American ginseng are different plants that serve different needs.
The ginseng root is used as a natural remedy in supplement form. The plant must grow for five years before it’s used. This usually means that high-quality ginseng commands a high price. The dried but unprocessed root is called white ginseng. The root that has been steamed and dried is called red ginseng.
Traditional Uses of Red Ginseng
Korean red ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as an overall wellness supplement for centuries. It has been used to:
- boost the immune system
- improve heart health
- treat diabetes
- increase energy
- decrease stress
- treat impotence
The root is said to resemble the human body. Instead of arms and legs, it has shoots. This resemblance is thought to be the reason that traditional herbalists considered ginseng as a full-body treatment. Today, research is showing just how effective ginseng is as a natural remedy.
Korean Red Ginseng and ED
Red ginseng has long been used to treat impotence. But researchers are now studying the effectiveness of the plant. In one study, 45 men with ED were given either Korean red ginseng or a placebo.
The men receiving the herb took 900 milligrams, three times a day, for eight weeks. At the end of eight weeks, those who took Korean red ginseng felt improvement in their ED symptoms compared to those who took the placebo. Researchers concluded that red ginseng may be an effective alternative treatment for impotence.
Ginseng in Women
Many women also experience a decline in sexual function during menopause. Another study explored Korean red ginseng’s effects on menopausal women. In the study, 32 women were given either three capsules a day of ginseng, or a placebo. Those who received the supplement had improved sexual functioning with no side effects. Researchers concluded that red ginseng may improve sexual function in women.
Other Health Benefits
Some research suggests that ginseng may help people with cancer. Ginseng can help prevent colorectal (or colon) cancer. Ginseng may also help people with cancer feel better when combined with chemotherapy.
In addition, some research shows that ginseng can prevent the growth of tumors and even stop the spread of cancer cells. Other research shows that ginseng can help lessen the chronic fatigue that comes with cancer.
Ginseng can help prevent colds and lessen the severity of heart disease symptoms. Ginseng may also be effective in increasing alertness, decreasing stress, and improving endurance.
When purchasing ginseng supplements, be sure that the type of ginseng is clearly marked. Both white and red ginseng are available. However, research has mostly been done on red ginseng.
You can take red ginseng as liquid, powders, or capsules. You can also buy the dried root to boil in water for tea.
Talk to your doctor about the right dosage for you. Never take more than recommended.
Short-term red ginseng use is considered safe for most people. Over time, the plant may affect your body.
Side effects don’t occur in everyone who takes ginseng. The most common side effect is trouble sleeping. Less common side effects include:
- menstrual issues
- increased heart rate
- elevated blood pressure
Risks and Warnings
It’s a moderate risk that red ginseng could interfere with some medications. Talk to your doctor before taking red ginseng if you take:
- blood pressure medicine
- blood thinner
- monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI)
- a stimulant
- immune system suppressant
- insulin for diabetes
Avoid combining ginseng and caffeine. Ginseng can intensify the effects of caffeine.
Pros and Cons
Ginseng is relatively affordable and freely available for purchase. You can take it as a capsule, a powder, a tea, or in drinks infused with ginseng. Ginseng is also used as an energy supplement.
Ginseng may not treat ED on its own. Some research suggests that ginseng only helps ED alongside healthy eating habits and exercise. Also, ginseng is not FDA-approved. Like most natural supplements, ginseng’s medical effectiveness is not completely understood. Use caution when using ginseng, and always talk to your doctor.
Korean red ginseng can help you treat your ED. But like other supplements, ginseng should not substitute for medical treatment. Talk to your doctor before trying red ginseng for ED.
Although research has shown that red ginseng can work as an ED treatment,
your ED may not respond to red ginseng. With more research, red ginseng may become an effective and trusted resolution for ED.