Is Korean Red Ginseng Effective for Erectile Dysfunction?


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is talked about more openly than it was in the past.  And the good news is that there are more products available than ever to treat this problem.  Some options include mainstream prescription drugs. But there are also natural therapies like Korean red ginseng that can help restore sexual function.

A Frank Talk About ED

The Mayo Clinic,  defines ED as a man’s inability to maintain and/or achieve an erection.  One of the things which makes this condition so difficult to treat is that there are many possible causes for it. These include:

  • Physical problems like heart disease, diabetes or Parkinson’s
  • Psychological problems like depression, stress or anxiety
  • Medications like those used to treat depression, allergies, stress and pain

Viagra, Cialis and other medications can treat this problem.  However,  dozens of over-the-counter supplements have sprung up that claim to treat this issue. The problem is, not all of them have evidence to back up them up.

Enter: Red Ginseng

One alternative treatment that is affective, however, is Korean Red ginseng. According to Healthline, this herb is also called Chinese, Asian or Panax Ginseng. It has been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years. The herb needs to mature for five years before it can be harvested. Then it is steamed and dried to make the final product. It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help improve a variety of health conditions apart from ED. These include heart disease, diabetes, fatigue and frequent infections caused by a weakened immune system.

Clinical Studies on Red Ginseng

Again, there are a lot of alternative treatments on the market which claim to be able to help with this disorder. However, very few of them are backed by actual science. Korean red ginseng is one of the exceptions to this rule.

Here are a few of the clinical trials which have tested the claims of this herb to treat ED:

  • In one study, 45 men were placed on a regimen of 900mg of Korean red ginseng daily. At the end of 8 weeks, the men presented with a 60% improvement with erection maintenance, penetration and rigidity of the penis tip.
  • Another trial involved 90 patients who also followed a course of this supplement for their erectile dysfunction and found that it was effective for increasing patient perception of sexual satisfaction and desire as well as penile rigidity and girth.
  • Lastly, a review of other clinical trials on red ginseng treatment for ED found that, while some of the trials were of low quality, overall the evidence did suggest that ginseng did help to improve the sexual function of men with erectile problems.

Tips for Treating with Red Ginseng

Here are some things to keep in mind when considering treatment of ED with red ginseng:

  • You should be evaluated by a doctor first and not try to self-treat with this or any other supplement. This is because ED can sometimes be caused by other even more serious conditions like heart problems or diabetes that will also need treatment.
  • It is also important to let your doctor know if you are planning on adding ginseng to your regimen.  This might interact with medications you might already be taking.  Studies have shown that it does interact with blood pressure medications, blood thinners, anti-depressants and medications which suppress the immune system.
  • Red ginseng and other treatments work best if they are combined with other lifestyle changes. These include weight loss, cessation of alcohol or tobacco use, regular exercise and treatment for underlying conditions.
  • Read the labels carefully before buying and don’t confuse the Korean red ginseng with Siberian or American ginseng, which also have medicinal value but are not used to treat E.D.
  • There are side effects possible with this supplement, including light-headedness, increased heart rate and blood pressure, headaches and digestive problems like diarrhea.

Korean red ginseng isn’t right for everyone – and researchers have noted that it did not completely alleviate the problem. However, for men who are interested in trying natural therapies to take care of their E.D., this supplement might help, especially if used in combination with healthy lifestyle changes.

Brian holds a PhD from the University of Southern California and is a current 4th year medical student. He has been freelance writing for over 4 years and aims to make health an engaging conversation. Learn more about his projects at and