Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, is estimated to affect one in 10 men worldwide. Because some conventional treatments for erectile dysfunction can cause serious side effects, scientists at the Department of Urology at University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Korea, wanted to test Korean red ginseng, a traditional Asian herb. Researchers tested 45 men with erectile dysfunction who were randomly assigned to receive 900 mg of ginseng three times per day or a placebo for eight weeks. After a 14-day break, the treatments were reversed for another eight weeks.
The researchers found that the men’s ability to achieve and maintain erections was significantly greater while taking ginseng compared to while they were taking a placebo. In fact, 60% of the men reported improved erections with ginseng. Improved sexual desire was also reported during ginseng treatment. Because testosterone levels did not change with treatment, the researchers suggest that ginseng may act on the nervous system, which influences sexual function. No significant side effects were seen in the trial.
Source: Journal of Urology 2002;168:2070–3