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Erectile Dysfunction and Korean Red Ginseng

Written by ColleenO.

Korean red ginseng is a heated form of Panax ginseng, one of the most popular species of the medicinal root.8 A handful of studies suggest that red ginseng may be a helpful treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Research Evidence on Korean Red Ginseng

Two double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, involving a total of about 135 people, have found evidence that Korean red ginseng may improve erectile function.1,2

In the better of the two trials, 45 participants received either placebo or Korean red ginseng at a dose of 900 mg 3 times daily for 8 weeks.2 After a 1-week period of no treatment, the two groups were switched. The results indicate that while using Korean red ginseng men experienced significantly better sexual function than while they were taking placebo.

In an analysis combining the results of 6 controlled trials, researchers found some evidence for the benefits of Korean red ginseng. However, the small size and generally low quality of the studies left some doubt about this conclusion.3

Ginseng appears to be nontoxic, both in the short- and long-term, according to the results of animal studies4-7, but it is generally recommended that people with the following avoid ginseng: hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, heart conditions, asthma, and insomnia. Ginseng should also be avoided by women who are pregnant or breast feeding.8


  1. Choi HK, et al. Clinical efficacy of Korean red ginseng for erectile dysfunction. Int. J Impotence Res. 1995;7:181-186.
  2. Hong B, Ji YH, Hong JH, et al. A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of Korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: a preliminary report. J Urol. 2002;168:2070-2073.
  3. Jang DJ, Lee MS, Shin BC, et al. Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Jun 9.
  4. Baldwin CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. What pharmacists should know about ginseng. Pharm J. 1986;237:583-586.
  5. Hess FG, Parent RA, Cox GE, et al. Reproduction study in rats on ginseng extract G115. Food Chem Toxicol. 1982;20:189-192.
  6. Newall C, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:143,148.
  7. Sonnenborn U, Proppert Y. Ginseng (Panax ginseng CA Meyer). Br J Phytother. 1991;2:3-14.
  8. Balch, P. (2006). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

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