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Should I use red ginseng for erectile dysfunction?

By: Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on February 27, 2017 — Written by Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA
Source: Medical News Today
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Sexual performance affects confidence and interpersonal relationships. When a man has difficulty with erectile dysfunction, it can affect several aspects of his life.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when a man cannot achieve or maintain an erection for enough time to sustain sexual activity. ED is most common among men ages 75 and older, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). However, men can experience ED at younger ages.

ED can occur as a result of impaired blood flow, psychological conditions, or other medical conditions that impact one or both of these factors.

While there are prescription medication treatments available, one herbal remedy reported to treat the condition is red ginseng. However, there are many considerations to make before using the herb as a treatment for ED.
What is red ginseng?
Fresh ginseng comes from plants that are less than 4 years old while red ginseng comes from plants that are at least 6 years old.

Red ginseng or Panax ginsenx is a Korean herbal remedy. It is widely used for the treatment of a number of conditions, including ED.

Red ginseng is the oldest form of the herb and is not harvested until the plant is at least 6 years old. Fresh ginseng is 4 years old or younger.14

The plant is a root that has stalks, which resembles the human body, with arms and legs. Practitioners and herbal supplement manufacturers may prepare red ginseng as a tea or in pill form for sale.
How might red ginseng help ED?

Researchers do not know the exact mechanism by which red ginseng might help ED.

Red ginseng was first thought to cause hormonal influences that are similar to testosterone. However, researchers have measured testosterone levels of men taking red ginseng and they do not usually increase.

Other possible mechanisms of action include increasing levels of nitric oxide, which relaxes the muscles in the penis and promotes blood flow. Researchers are still unsure if these or other causes could reduce ED symptoms.
Research about red ginseng and ED

A 2008 review of studies in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology regarding red ginseng and ED found six of the studies reviewed reported improvement in erectile function when compared with a placebo. However, the researchers wrote that larger-scale research studies are needed.

Another study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research researched 119 men with mild to moderate ED. The participants took either 350 milligrams (mg) of red ginseng four times per day or a placebo for 8 weeks.

At the end of the study, the researchers found premature ejaculation decreased and sexual performance improved in those who took red ginseng.

Red ginseng is sold in many different preparations including a cream and in pill form. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), taking 900 mg of red ginseng three times a day may improve erections. However, the AAFP state that men did not report enhanced sexual experience when taking red ginseng.

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