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.
Erectile dysfunction can have psychological causes. 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.
But lifestyle changes may not be enough to alleviate symptoms, so medications can be another good option. Certain herbal supplements, like ginseng, may also help. Make sure to talk with your doctor before taking any kind of supplement.
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 shouldn’t 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 5 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’s been steamed and dried is called red ginseng.
Korean red ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as an overall wellness supplement for centuries. It’s 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 a full-body treatment. Today, research is showing just how effective ginseng is as a natural remedy.
A 2018 meta-analysis that looked at 28 studies on herbs found panax ginseng to be particularly effective for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
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.
A 2020 study on menopausal women found that the ginseng didn’t statistically relieve the symptoms of menopause, but it did improve sexual functioning for these women.
Some research suggests that ginseng may help people who have cancer. Ginseng
More studies are needed, but current evidence is showing hope for its use in other areas of health, too.
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 with 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:
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.
A 2020 study examined one of the more under-reported side effects of ginseng, called “excessive heat.” This includes redness, fever, and ulcers of the mouth and throat. This side effect can happen you overuse ginseng.
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 isn’t FDA-approved.
Like most natural supplements, ginseng’s medical effectiveness isn’t completely understood. Use caution when using ginseng, especially if you are on any other medications, and always talk with your doctor.
Korean red ginseng can help you treat your ED. But like other supplements, ginseng should not substitute for medical treatment. Talk with 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 it. With more research, red ginseng may become an effective and trusted resolution for ED.