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Ginseng benefits: does ginseng treat erectile dysfunction?

By Ashton Sheriff | Medically reviewed by Dr Jaskirt Matharu
hands holding a clutch of ginseng

Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years as a health-boosting tonic. However, as the centuries have rolled on by, it has gained additional popularity for another reason: its supposed ability to improve erectile function. 

In this article, we list the top three benefits of ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction. 

What is ginseng?

Ginseng is a herb that is known and used for its stimulating effects on the body. While there are many different species of ginseng, they are often placed into two distinct categories: Asian ginseng and American ginseng. 

Asian ginseng, which is mainly grown and cultivated in South Korea and China, includes the species Panax ginseng (also known as red ginseng and Korean ginseng) and Panax notoginseng (also known as Chinese ginseng and notoginseng). 

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), on the other hand, is usually grown and harvested in the US and Canada. 

While most studies have tended to only investigate the effects of Asian ginseng on erectile dysfunction, American ginseng has also been shown to positively affect sexual performance in animals. 

Some claim Asian ginseng is more potent than American ginseng, but these claims do not have much scientific backing. 

Ginseng benefits for erectile dysfunction

The available evidence on how ginseng works in the body and its effects isn’t of the highest quality, and there aren’t that many papers on its effectiveness for ED. That being said, ginseng - specifically Panax ginseng - is suggested to have three main benefits when it comes to improving erectile function. 

1. Nitric oxide production: Panax ginseng’s possible antioxidant and organ-protective properties are believed to enhance nitric oxide (NO) synthesis in the blood vessels of the penis.

NO is vital for strong erections because it helps to dilate (widen) the blood vessels in the penis. Panax ginseng’s possible ability to increase NO production may allow more blood to flow into the penis - resulting in firmer erections. 

2. Libido: as well as the possibility of improving the hardness and duration of erections in men with erectile dysfunction, Panax ginseng is also thought to improve libido

3. Diseases associated with erectile dysfunction: Panax ginseng is said to contain molecules known as adaptogens which are believed to increase resistance to stress (although more scientific evidence is needed to confirm the validity of this belief). Adaptogens may also be effective in reducing chronic inflammation and atherosclerosis - the latter of which can cause erectile dysfunction. 

Ginseng side effects

While Panax ginseng appears to be “well-tolerated” for the most part, some reported ginseng side effects include gastrointestinal upset, insomnia, and headache. 

Caution is recommended if taking Panax ginseng with certain medicines, particularly warfarin, oral hypoglycemic agents (anti-diabetic medication), insulin, and phenelzine. 

It’s best to consult your doctor before taking any natural treatment remedies for erectile dysfunction, as they may interfere with any existing medication you are taking. 

Alternatives to Ginseng

As far as natural alternatives to ginseng go, the most promising candidate appears to be maca. One small study found that when men with mild ED experienced improved erectile function when they were given 2400mg of maca extract for 12 weeks. 

However, according to a 2020 review on aphrodisiacs used for erectile dysfunction, this is the only study available that highlights maca’s effectiveness. Although this first trial is promising, it’s difficult to decisively conclude how effective maca is for treating erectile dysfunction until more studies are carried out.

Another popular erectile dysfunction treatment is sildenafil. It’s clinically proven to stimulate harder, longer-lasting erections and starts to work only an hour after you take it. 

Studies have shown that most men (78%) have experienced improved erections after taking sildenafil 50mg. It has been well studied as an erectile dysfunction treatment for 20 years and is generally considered to be safe. 

It works by simply increasing blood flow to the penis. This makes the penis firmer and more rigid, making it easier for you to enjoy uninterrupted, passionate sex.  

The numan take

The benefits of ginseng appear to be numerous. However, it's important to note that the high-quality evidence supporting its effectiveness as a treatment for erectile dysfunction is sparse. 

The available evidence suggests it may be able to improve erectile function by increasing nitric oxide production, as well as by enhancing libido and protecting the body against diseases that may cause erectile dysfunction. 

The action of specific compounds in Panax ginseng - such as adaptogens, antioxidants, and ginsenosides - are also believed to be beneficial for promoting overall health and wellbeing. 

However, more scientific research around adaptogens and their supposed benefits is needed to substantiate the claims made about them.