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Ginseng – treats erectile dysfunction, improves sexual health

In my previous article on maca, I promised to share with you the health benefits of ginseng based on scientific studies. This article only focuses on ginseng and its impact on erectile dysfunction and sexual health. Ginseng has diverse pharmacological components.

Recently, I tasted one ginseng product that was given to me by one of my naturopathic medical students. One thing I noticed about the ginseng product was its ability to boost my sex drive at night. I found that there is something special about this ginseng product. As I did mention in the maca article, ginseng is almost regarded as a natural ‘viagra.’

Ginseng is not new.  It has been used in Asia and North America for centuries especially to improve thinking, concentration, memory, and physical endurance (Axe, 2021). Axe, J (2021) further reiterates that ginseng is also prescribed to improve depression, and anxiety and as a chronic fatigue natural treatment. It is also further used to boost the immune system, fight infections and help men with erectile dysfunction. Axe, J (2021) also explained this important herbal is used as a stimulant and headache, infertility, fever and indigestion by traditional Americans.  It is therefore estimated that about 6 million Americans use ginseng (Axe, 2021).

Ginseng, market value?

It is traditionally regarded as a herb which has its root in China with historical antecedents as far back as 100 A.D. Axe, J (2021) in telling the story, found that before the 16th century, ginseng became very common that controversy sets in as to who controls this plant.  Globenewswire (2021) reported that before 2027 the global market is expected to reach US$12.6 billion. Another newsworthy of ginseng is that it has a market presence in more than 35 countries, and sales exceed US$2 billion, half having based in South Korea.

The U.S. Accounts for over 5.5percent of the Global Market Size in 2020, while China is forecast to grow at a 13.1percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the period 2020-2027. The Ginseng market in the U.S. is estimated at US$333.2 million in the year 2020. The country currently accounts for a 5.47percent share of the global market. China, the world’s second-largest economy, is forecast to reach an estimated market size of US$4.3 Billion in the year 2027 trailing a CAGR of 13.1percent through 2027.

Among the other noteworthy geographic markets are Japan and Canada, each forecast to grow at 7.9percent and 9.3percent respectively over the 2020-2027 period. Within Europe, Germany is forecast to grow at approximately 9percent CAGR while the rest of the European market (as defined in the study) will reach US$4.3 Billion by the year 2027.

Types of Ginseng

Fresh ginseng is harvested before 4 years, while white ginseng is harvested between 4–6 years and red ginseng is harvested after 6 or more years. 11 species of this herb exist, however, the most popular are American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng).  They all belong to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae. The botanical name Panax means “all heal” in Greek. The name “ginseng” is the generic term used to describe both American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng). 

However, the true ginseng plant belongs only to the Panax genus, so other species, such as Siberian ginseng and crown prince ginseng, have distinctively different functions(Axe, 2021). In the aspects of the pharmacological properties (Park et al. 2014; Kim, 2012) found that differences in the concentration of the active compounds exist between the two and this affects their potency.  The researchers further noted that American ginseng works as a relaxing agent, whereas the Asian variety has an invigorating effect.  This notwithstanding, Im et al. (2013) found that both species contain the same compound known as ginsenosides, but they include different types in different amounts.

Though the Panax family (Asian and American) are the  “true” types of ginseng due to their high levels of the active ingredient ginsenosides, other adaptogenic herbs also have such properties and are also called ginseng. Adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals that work to counteract the effects of stress in the body.

Other species of ginseng, Axe, J (2021):

Siberian Ginseng: One clinical study by Kuo et al. (2010) found that Siberian ginseng may increase VO2 max to optimize cardiovascular endurance, improve fatigue and support immunity.  VO2 max is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise. It’s also called peak oxygen uptake, maximal oxygen uptake, or maximal aerobic capacity. In this study, 8 males were given 8,000mg of Siberian ginseng for 8 weeks.  Siberia Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) grows wild in Russia and Asia. Eleuthero is also another name called, it contains high levels of eleutherosides, which have very similar advantages to ginsenosides found in Panax species of ginseng.

A previous clinical trial by Eschbach et al. (2000) in 9 highly trained men between 28years given Siberian ginseng 1200mg daily for 7 days did not find any significant changes between the test and placebo group.

Indian Ginseng: Withania somnifera, also called ashwagandha, is very famous in   Ayurveda medicine for supporting longevity. Though similarities are found in classic ginseng, differences exist.  One study by Gannon et al. (2014) found that this Ayurveda herb can be taken on a long-term basis and supports thyroid hormone levels (TSH, T3 and T4), relieve anxiety, balances cortisol, improve cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and improve fitness levels.

Brazilian Ginseng: one study by Costa et al. (2015) found that Suma root another name for the Brazilian Ginseng contains ecdysterone, which the study notes that it supports healthy levels of testosterone in men and women and could also support muscular health, reduce inflammation, fight cancer, improve sexual performance and boost endurance. The Brazilian Ginseng (Pfaffia paniculata) is believed to grow in the rain forests of South America and means “for everything” in Portuguese because of its diverse benefits.

Ginseng, Science

Sexual problem: Why not try Ginseng?

Treats Erectile and Sexual Dysfunction     

A systematic study conducted by Jang et al. (2008) found that Korean red ginseng powder appears to support sexual and erectile dysfunction in men. The systematic review used 28 randomized clinical studies that evaluated the effectiveness of red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction.

The review recommended the usage of the herbal but also explained that more rigorous studies are necessary to draw definitive conclusions. In this review, out of the 28 reviewed studies, six found an improvement in erectile function when using red ginseng juxtaposed with placebo control. Four studies tested the effects of red ginseng on sexual function using questionnaires compared with a placebo, and all trials reported positive effects.

Another animal study by Murphy and Lee (2002) found that ginseng’s ginsenoside components increase penile erections by directly inducing the vasodilatation and relaxation of the erectile tissue. It’s the release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells and perivascular nerves that directly affects the erectile tissue. They concluded that animal studies lend growing support for the use of ginseng in the treatment of sexual dysfunction and provide increasing evidence for the role of nitric oxide in the mechanism of ginsenoside action.

Two clinical trials by (de Andrade et al. 2007; Hong et al.2002) also recommended ginseng as a natural alternative to erectile dysfunction.  Two studies (Jang et al. 2008; Li et al. 2014) also found that compounds derived from ginseng have the locus standi to protect against oxidative stress in blood vessels and tissues in the penis and help restore normal function. Also, two studies (Mckay, 2004; Li et al. 2014) found that ginseng enhances the production of nitric oxide, a compound that improves muscle relaxation in the penis and increases blood circulation.

An old clinical trial by Choi et al. (1995) found that men treated with Korean red ginseng had a 60percent improvement in ED symptoms, juxtaposed to a 30percent improvement produced by a medication used to treat ED. This study involved a total of 90 patients with 30 patients in each group.

Another study by Youn et al. (2009) also found that 86 men with ED had significant improvements in erectile function and overall satisfaction after taking 1,000 mg of aged ginseng extract for 8 weeks. A more recent study by Yin et al. (2018) recommends steamed ginseng to treat erectile dysfunction.  A more recent animal study by Li et al. (2021) found that Panax ginseng at 2500mg is a novel natural agent for improving male sexual function.

Finally, another most recent animal study by Mehrim et al. (2022) concluded the effective use of dietary Ginseng at a level of 2,000mg is a promising reproductive agent for adult African catfish males.

Take home

Ginseng: Natural ‘Viagra’?

From empirical studies, ginseng improved sexual desire and arousal in both sexes, raising the possibility that ginseng could be the first known legitimate natural aphrodisiac. Extensive studies have been conducted on ginseng as a natural ‘viagra’. Though, we still need more studies. What is available from the studies demonstrates that Ginseng likely works like Viagra in relaxing muscles and improving blood flow to the genital region. Dosages between 1,500mg to 3,500mg have been recommended.

NB:

Prof. Nyarkotey has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to justify his write-ups.  My articles are for educational purposes and do not serve as medical advice for treatment. I aim to educate the public about evidence-based scientific Naturopathic Therapies.

>>>The author is a Professor of Naturopathic Healthcare and President of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine & Technology (NUCHMT)/African Naturopathic Foundation.  E-mail: collegeofholisticmedicine@gmail.com.  Tel: 0553661585(information on naturopathic remedies)

References

Global Ginseng Market to Reach US$12.6 Billion by the Year 2027. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/06/23/2251761/0/en/Global-Ginseng-Market-to-Reach-US-12-6-Billion-by-the-Year-2027.html

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Ying A, Yu QT, Guo L, Zhang WS, Liu JF, Li Y, Song H, Li P, Qi LW, Ge YZ, Liu EH, Liu Q. Structural-Activity Relationship of Ginsenosides from Steamed Ginseng in the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction. Am J Chin Med. 2018;46(1):137-155. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X18500088. Epub 2018 Jan 3. PMID: 29298510.

Li D, Ren J, He L, Sun J, Liu P, Li Y. Combined Effects of Oligopeptides Isolated from Panax ginsengA. Meyer and Ostrea gigasThunberg on Sexual Function in Male Mice. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb 28;18(5):2349. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18052349. PMID: 33670840; PMCID: PMC7967744.

Mehrim AI, Refaey MM, Hassan MAE, Zaki MA, Zenhom OA. Ginseng® as a reproductive enhancer agent for African catfish, Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822). Fish Physiol Biochem. 2022 Feb;48(1):15-32. doi: 10.1007/s10695-021-00969-y. Epub 2021 Nov 27. PMID: 34837586.

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