Does Ginseng Work?
Ginseng supplements are claimed to be beneficial for a number of conditions, but does ginseng work? Early studies show promising results for using ginseng to improve mental functioning, lower blood sugar, delay premature ejaculation, and improve sexual function in men with impotence. However, some of the other reported ginseng uses have very little or no scientific evidence in their favor.
Ginseng is an herbal supplement that is used for a variety of different uses. A few of these uses have some promising research in their favor, some have limited scientific support, and many have no scientific basis whatsoever.
This article refers to Panax ginseng (also known as Asian ginseng, Chinese ginseng, and Korean ginseng). This type of ginseng should not be confused with American ginseng or Siberian ginseng, which are entirely different herbs.
Early studies show promising results for using ginseng for the following uses:
- Improving mental functioning (such as improving arithmetic skills), although ginseng does not seem to improve memory when used alone
- Lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes
- Improving sexual function in men with impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction or ED)
- Delaying premature ejaculation (when combined with several other herbs and applied to the skin as a cream).
More studies (including larger, more carefully designed studies) are necessary before it can be said conclusively that ginseng works for any of these conditions.
Some uses have a little scientific evidence in their favor, but the evidence is too preliminary or contradictory to draw any conclusions about whether ginseng really works. These conditions include:
- Cancer (including general cancer prevention and breast cancer treatment)
- The common cold
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
- The flu (influenza).
At this point, ginseng cannot be considered to be effective for such uses. It is possible that future studies may show that ginseng does indeed work for such uses.