Although ginseng may help men with erectile dysfunction via both psychological and vascular mechanisms, more research is needed to assess its effectiveness.

The study

This meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs assessed the effects of ginseng on erectile dysfunction. Nine studies assessing 587 men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction were included; 8 studies tested Korean red ginseng, and 1 assessed tissue-cultured mountain ginseng. The doses ranged from 800 to 3,000 mg per day.

The primary outcomes were erectile dysfunction, as assessed by the erectile function domain of the International Index of Erectile Dysfunction (IIEF)-5 questionnaire, and adverse events. The secondary outcomes were the ability to have intercourse, sexual satisfaction, and quality of life.

The results

There was low-to-moderate certainty of evidence that ginseng had a statistically significant effect on erectile dysfunction. The authors considered this change to be "clinically unimportant."

There was low-certainty evidence that ginseng improved men's ability to have intercourse.

There were no effects on sexual satisfaction, based on the IIEF-5. However, there was low-certainty evidence for an improvement in sexual satisfaction when the results from different questionnaires were pooled.

There was insufficient evidence to assess the effect of ginseng on men's quality of life.

There was no significant effect of ginseng on adverse events.


Commercial companies supported 6 of the included studies

Because all of the included studies were less than 12 weeks in duration, future studies should assess the effects of long-term ginseng supplementation.

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This Study Summary was published on June 4, 2021.