Does Ginseng Increase Testosterone?

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 12, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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Many clients seek natural ways to boost low testosterone levels. Ginseng's reputed positive effect on testosterone sparked our interest.

After taking a month and a half to do extensive online research, talking with my dietician, clients who've taken ginseng, and giving it a go 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

  • Korean red ginseng extract can increase testosterone levels, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone, improving sexual function and performance.
  • Ginseng is a traditional medicine, and it is very effective in treating different impotence and increases testosterone levels.
  • About 10% of testosterone in the body converts to DHT, a potent androgen.
  • From my professional experience and research, ginseng stands out as a natural and versatile supplement, not only for its testosterone-boosting properties but also for its overall health benefits, making it a valuable addition to a balanced wellness regimen.

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) [1].

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 [2]

Strengthening stress resistance positively impacts testosterone because studies have shown that T levels are reduced in response to stress [3].

Prolactin is a hormone the body produces to help women make milk after childbirth, but it is found in men, too. High prolactin inhibits testosterone production, so ginseng’s prolactin-lowering properties seem to directly benefit testosterone [4].

More testosterone levels in the body mean more Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). About ten percent of testosterone converts to DHT. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen, but it does not convert to estrogen as testosterone does and binds to an androgen receptor longer [5].

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

Ginseng and Body Composition

Ginseng boosts energy and can significantly impact body composition, promoting a healthier physique. It increases muscle mass and reduces body fat. This is due to its influence on metabolism and hormonal regulation, favoring a healthier balance between muscle mass and fat.

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 can effectively treat impotence and low serum testosterone levels. According to the National Library of Medicine, it builds immunity, regulates blood sugar, improves focus and mood, and boosts endurance in the body [6].

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 male 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 [7].

Panax ginseng supplements come in various forms. Choosing a reputable source is essential due to varying quality and lack of standard dosage.

Other Health Benefits

A man and a woman at the bathroom tub

The National Library of Medicine shows Panax ginseng may have anti-viral properties against the flu [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 and 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.

Is Ginseng Good for Erectile Dysfunction?

Ginseng, particularly Korean red ginseng, is often good for erectile dysfunction (ED). Some studies have shown that it may improve erectile function by enhancing blood flow and reducing oxidative stress in the tissues. However, the evidence is not conclusive, and ginseng should not replace standard medical treatments for ED.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3861174/
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-dihydrotestosterone-4684657
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5128352/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33080146/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557634/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12540305/
  7. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/jappl.1997.83.6.1785
  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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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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