Korean ginseng found to help men with ‘erectile dysfunction’

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Recently, a press release alerted me to a study which found that one in four men aged 30-79 suffers from low testosterone levels [1]. While male menopause (sometimes to referred to ‘andropause’) has not received nearly as much attention as female menopause, the fact is that dwindling testosterone levels can lead to problems with mood and energy in time. Low testosterone is also linked with an enhanced risk of chronic disease including heart disease. With an increasing ageing population, there is an argument for taking andropause a little more seriously than it traditionally has been in the past.

Other potential consequences of declining testosterone levels include low libido and erectile difficulties. The plight of men so afflicted has been highlighted time and again in the last decade, and this public awareness campaign has no doubt been fuelled, at least in part, by a desire to sell us drugs like Cialis and Viagra. Yet, there is little doubt in mind that erectile difficulties affect enough men for it to be given due regard.

With this in mind, I was interested to learn of a recent study which tested the effect of Korean ginseng on men with ‘erectile dysfunction’ [2]. 60 men were treated with ginseng (1000 mg, 3 times a day), or placebo, over a 12-week period. Compared to those taking the placebo, those taking ginseng saw significant improvement in measures of erectile function including ‘rigidity’, ‘penetration’ and maintenance of erection.

Below, I have pasted in a couple of previous article which explore other natural approaches to improving libido and/or erectile difficulties.


1. Araujo AB, et al. Prevalence of Symptomatic Androgen Deficiency in Men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Aug 14 [Epub ahead of print]

2. de Andrade E, et al. Study of the efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Asian J Androl 2007;9(2):241-4.

Impotence – is there a natural alternative alternative to Viagra? – 6 July 2003

Like a lot of people who are plugged into the information superhighway, I get a sizeable quota of unsolicited emails enticing me to part with my hard-earned cash. In amongst the mortgage and loan offers, I have been receiving a growing number of emails plying a trade in Viagra and penis enlargement programmes. So great has the deluge been of late, that I was becoming concerned that the senders of this particular type of spam had been tipped off about my sexual failings by a disgruntled ex-girlfriend (or two). However, recently my sister happened to mention to me how amused she was by the fact that she gets regular emails offering to improve the size and potency of her manhood. I told my girlfriend about this who said she gets them too. I have to say, my fragile male ego took some comfort from the knowledge that even women are targeted by the sellers of penal reform.

Whatever one’s opinion is of those who prey on our neuroses, they fact that they exist at all suggests many of us men are keen to boost our position in sexual stakes. The success of Viagra, along with its seeming transformation from anti-impotence pill to recreational drug, bear testament to this too. Yet, despite the rising popularity of Viagra, it is not the last word in sexual stimulants. Evidence suggests that more natural remedies can provide a helping hand to men who find their libido or erectile ability is somewhat deflated.

One herb that may help restore lost potency is Ginkgo biloba. This remedy is often recommended in natural medicine to stimulate the circulation. It is believed that Ginkgo biloba may increase blood flow to the penis, which generally has a positive bearing on a man’s ability to attain and maintain an erection. One study showed that after six months of treatment with Ginkgo biloba, 50 per cent of men with impotence were restored to working order. The recommended dose is 40 – 80 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract, three times a day. It should be borne in mind, however, that Ginkgo biloba is no quick fix, and it can take several months before its full effects are seen.

Another herb that appears to have the ability to boost potency in men is Korean ginseng. This herb is renowned for its general tonic actions in the body, though some practitioners recommend it specifically for enlivening sexual energy too. In one study, Korean ginseng taken for 8 weeks was found to improve erectile ability in 60 per cent of men who took it. In particular, Korean ginseng seemed to increase the likelihood of successful penetration and the maintenance of an erection compared to placebo (inactive medication). Those wanting to give Korean ginseng a go should take 900 mg of the herb, two or three times a day, for three months.

Another natural agent that I quite like to recommend for low libido is Tribulus terrestris. This herb contains a substance called protodioscin, which is believed to boost the production of libido-enhancing hormones called androgens in the body. Experiments have shown this herb may improve libido and the strength of erections in animals, and my experience in practice is that this often applies to males of the human species too. I generally recommend 750 ” 1500 mg of Tribulus per day, for two or three months. Despite the popularity of Viagra, medicinal herbs remain my firm favourites for men seeking a sexual pick-me-up.

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