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 rumoured ability to improve erectile function.
In this article, we list the top three benefits of ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction.
Types of ginseng
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).
On the other hand, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) 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 improve sexual performance in animals.
Some claim Asian ginseng is more potent than American ginseng, but these claims do not have much scientific backing.
Benefits of ginseng for erectile dysfunction
It should be emphasised that the evidence for the mechanism of action and effects of ginseng isn’t of the highest quality, and the papers that do exist are fairly few. 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 dilates (widens) 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.
3. Diseases associated with erectile dysfunction: Panax ginseng is said to contain two nifty molecules which may help to reduce the risk of developing diseases that cause erectile dysfunction (ED).
Firstly, it 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 - two diseases that can cause erectile dysfunction.
Side-effects of ginseng
While Panax ginseng appears to be “well tolerated” for the most part, some of its reported 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 is 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.
The bottom line
The benefits of ginseng appear to be numerous - however, it is important to note that the high-quality evidence supporting its effectiveness as a treatment for erectile dysfunction is sparse.
It supposedly improves 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.
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