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Does Ginseng Increase Testosterone? (From A Dietitian)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 24, 2022

Every day my colleagues and I encounter clients who struggle with low testosterone and are looking for natural ways to boost their levels.

I kept hearing chatter at the gym about ginseng’s positive effect on testosterone levels and became intrigued.

After taking a month and a half to do extensive online research, talking with our dietician, and giving it a go myself with a few curious colleagues, I’ve compiled my research data and feedback from testing in this article.

Read on to find out whether ginseng will work as a testosterone booster.

Quick Summary

  • For thousands of years, Red ginseng has been widely used in Chinese medicine for various ailments.
  • Red ginseng plays a role in increasing nitric oxide levels, which increases blood flow.
  • Panax red ginseng is considered the king of natural supplements for its full-body benefits, including potentially increasing testosterone levels.

What Is Ginseng and What Does It Do in the Body?

A person holding raw ginseng

Ginseng is a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine that has the potential to be an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction and low testosterone levels, build immunity, regulate blood sugar, improve focus and mood, and boost endurance in the body [1].

There are two main types of ginseng: Panax ginseng, also called Asian ginseng, Korean red ginseng, and American ginseng.

American ginseng is considered less potent in Chinese medicine, namely for sexual function.

Panax ginseng contains chemicals known as ginsenosides that boost the conversion of arginine to nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels which in turn improves blood flow, boosts endurance, and may help increase muscle mass and strength [2]

Panax ginseng is readily available as a natural supplement in various forms, including powders, capsules, dried herbs, and tea.

Quality and active ingredients in supplements vary widely across manufacturers, and this is no different for Panax ginseng, which is why there is no standard dosage. As with anything you put in your body, it is essential to purchase your ginseng extract from a reputable source.

How Does Ginseng Affect Testosterone?

A man flexing his biceps

Red ginseng can positively affect testosterone because it has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, and it has been used to treat sexual dysfunction and improve sexual performance for a long time.

Beyond this, studies show great promise of Korean red ginseng extract increasing testosterone levels, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone (LH) [3].

Panax ginseng is believed to increase testosterone levels by:

  • Strengthening stress resistance
  • Decreasing prolactin, a hormone produced in the pituitary gland
  • Regulating Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen considered to be three to six times more potent than testosterone [4]

Strengthening stress resistance positively impacts testosterone because studies have shown that T-levels are reduced in response to stress [5].

Prolactin is a hormone produced by the body to help women produce milk after childbirth but is found in men also. High prolactin inhibits testosterone production, so ginseng’s prolactin-lowering properties seem to directly benefit testosterone [6].

More levels of testosterone in the body mean more Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), about ten percent of testosterone converts to DHT. Though Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen, it does not convert to estrogen as testosterone does and binds to an androgen receptor longer [7].

Ginseng’s potential to regulate DHT seems to directly benefit T-levels and production.

Learn More: Does Pre-workout Increase Testosterone?

Other Health Benefits

A man and a woman at the bathroom tub

Researchers conducted a study to determine any potential anti-viral and preventative properties Panax ginseng extract has against the flu, and the results proved promising [8].

Panax ginseng may also improve sexual arousal and satisfaction in postmenopausal women, as one study suggests [9].

Another study shows ginseng increased the sperm count and quality of participants taking the supplement [10].

Cognitive function in middle-aged men and women seems to improve with the use of Korean red ginseng, as well as gaining a general sense of overall well-being [11].

Researchers looking to treat erectile dysfunction with Ginseng and improve sexual performance successfully treated participants for eight weeks with Korean ginseng berry extract and reported positive results for the men to get and maintain an erection [12].

“Used for centuries as a tonic, stimulant, and aphrodisiac. Ginseng also boosts your cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems” -Tabatha Elliot, Ph.D.

Does Ginseng Have Any Side Effects?

Ginseng seems to have only mild side effects for some users, including insomnia, headache, agitation, and upset stomach [13].

In our small group of ginseng supplement testers, mild insomnia was the most common side effect, and it was also typically reported in online user testimonials.

I experienced minor stomach upset that I was able to avoid by taking ginseng with food.

How To Supplement With It

A muscular man looking at a bottle

When using ginseng extracts to enhance mental or physical performance, reduce illness risk, or alleviate stress, you should cycle it.

An example of a cycle would be to take Panax ginseng daily for two to three weeks, then stop for three weeks and start again [14].

Cycling supplements is a widespread practice as many feel you reap the most benefits from the ingredients by giving your body a regular break.

I did not come across any standard dosage for Panax ginseng in all my research, but standardized supplements with at least 2% ginsenosides are the recommendation.

FAQs

Does Ginseng Work Like Viagra?

Yes, Panax ginseng can work like Viagra to a certain extent by positively affecting erectile function by increasing blood flow.

How Long Does It Take To Feel the Effects of Ginseng?

The effects of ginseng can be felt in as little as 24-48 hours because it does not need to build up in your system to cause an effect.

How Long Does It Take To Feel the Effects of Ginseng?

Korean red ginseng, also known as Panax ginseng, is best for treating erectile dysfunction.

Does Ginseng Boost Testosterone?

Our test group found supplementing with red ginseng a surprisingly positive experience.

A noticeable boost in testosterone, verified by a testosterone level blood test, and the fact it made many of us feel great in our skin made us commit to continuing a Panax ginseng cycle every once in a while.

If you want to feel the benefits of increased testosterone even quicker, I’d recommend opting for one of the best men's testosterone boosters, which are all-natural and contain high-quality ingredients.

They aren’t magic pills, but some of them proved to be quite effective for my clients.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12540305/
  2. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/jappl.1997.83.6.1785
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3861174/
  4. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-dihydrotestosterone-4684657
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5128352/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33080146/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557634/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466917/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20141583/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2561113/
  11. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1000/panax-ginseng
  12. https://www.nature.com/articles/ijir201245
  13. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-64134/panax-ginseng-oral/details
  14. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/asian-ginseng

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