Does Ginseng Increase Testosterone?

Ginseng is often referred to as the “King of Herbs” for its medicinal value. It is perhaps the oldest form of herbal remedy in human history.

Ginseng has been used in ancient medicine for enhancing libido, increased energy and as a remedy for numerous health conditions. In ancient times, Ginseng was considered a cure-all and even the kings swore by its libido enhancing and disease-fighting properties. Today, Ginseng is used in numerous testosterone boosting supplements. So, let us check out if it works as a testosterone booster.

Before we move on, it is important to know that there are different varieties of Ginseng. However, the most notable of them are the Siberian Ginseng and Korean Red Ginseng. We will talk about each of them separately, and see if there is enough scientific evidence to prove their testosterone properties.

How Ginseng Helps Testosterone

Ginseng is believed to elevate testosterone levels by strengthening stress resistance, decreasing prolactin and regulating Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels.

It helps the body adapt to stress better by:

  • Inhibiting stress hormones
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Resistance to free radicals
  • Other pathways

Some animal studies have shown that Ginseng reduces Prolactin, which is a testosterone killing hormone. While it may not necessarily increase testosterone levels, it does help achieve normal levels.

It has also been shown that Ginseng inhibits five alpha reductase enzymes that convert testosterone into DHT.

The Difference between Korean Red and Siberian Ginseng

Though they both share the same name, Korean Red and Siberian ginseng are not from the same family. Siberian ginseng is not considered a “true” ginseng as it does not belong to the Panax family. However, both are considered adaptogens as they help the body adapt to stress.

 Also known as Panax ginseng, Korean Red ginseng is native to Russia and East Asia. Siberian ginseng is also native to the same region as Korean ginseng, however, it belongs to the Eleutherococcus family rather than the Panax family.

Korean Red Ginseng or Panax Ginseng and Testosterone levels

Korean Red Ginseng contains multiple groups of saponins and ginsenosides in larger proportion than in other types of ginseng. It is also the most studied of all Ginseng species. Here is a summary of some of the studies conducted to establish the efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng as a testosterone booster.

Effect of Panax Ginseng on Testosterone Level and Prostate in Male Rats

In one study, adult male rats were treated with 1percent and 5 percent Panax Ginseng in their diet for 60 days, and a control group was also used. The goal was to investigate the effect of Ginseng on testosterone levels and prostate health. Researchers found:

  • 8 percent testosterone increase in 1 percent Ginseng group
  • 62 percent testosterone increase in 5 percent Ginseng group

Effects of Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer saponins on male fertility

The study involved 66 participants of whom 30 oligoastenospermic sine causa were assigned to group A, 16 oligoastenospermic with idiopathic varicocele assigned to group B and 20 to the control group. The patients were treated with panax ginseng. Researchers observed:

  • Increase in plasma free and total testosterone, FSH, DHT and LH levels
  • The decrease in prolactin levels

It was concluded that ginsenosides might have an impact at different levels of the hypothalamus-pituitary-testis axis.

Siberian Ginseng and Testosterone levels

The root of the plant Siberian Ginseng is used to make supplements. It is known to possess the ability to increase general resistance to stressors and strengthen the body. It is also used to treat conditions of the heart and blood such as low and high blood pressure, rheumatic heart disease and hardening of arteries.

Siberian ginseng is also used in the treatment of diabetes, tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis and many other illnesses. It is known to affect fertility and testosterone levels as well. Here is a summary of studies conducted on the effectiveness of Siberian ginseng as a testosterone booster.

The effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus and Panax ginseng on steroidal hormone indices of stress and lymphocyte subset numbers in endurance athletes

This study involved male endurance athletes engaged in their normal training. Each participant was given an 8ml/day ethanolic extract containing either Eleutherococcus senticosus (ES) or Panax ginseng (PG) equivalent to 4 gram and 2 gram of dried root, or placebo. The participants were tested for cortisol, testosterone, and testosterone to cortisol ratio (TCR) as well as other markers such as total T-cells, T-suppressor cells (CD8), T-helper cells (CD4) before and after six weeks of supplementation. It was found that:

  • No significant change in the immune system variables from pre to post test in any of the treatment groups
  • No significant change in cortisol, testosterone, or TCR in the Panax Ginseng group
  • Decrease in TCR in the Siberian Ginseng group by 28.6 percent
  • Siberian Ginseng increased rather than decreased hormonal indices of stress, which could lead to lower testosterone levels

The effect of siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) on substrate utilization and performance

The study was aimed at investigating the physiological responses to supplementation with Siberian GInseng in endurance cyclists. It included 9 highly trained athletes in the age group of 26-30 years. They cycled for 120 minutes followed by a simulated 10 km time trial. Their diet was controlled and 1200 mg/day Siberian Ginseng was administered 7 days before each trial. Researchers found:

  • No significant difference in endurance, overall performance, hormonal indices of stress or other factors.

Potential Side Effects of Ginseng

Ginseng has a good safety profile. However, you should not use Ginseng if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Though the effects of Ginseng on breast milk are still unknown, it is better to be safe.

Do not take Ginseng if you are suffering from a hormone-sensitive condition, bleeding condition or an autoimmune disease. Many people report insomnia after consuming Ginseng. It should not be consumed if you are already on some drugs or medications.

Some other side effects of Ginseng include:

  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Breast pain
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Itching
  • Menstrual problems
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vaginal Bleeding

These side effects are rare and are often associated with Korean Red Ginseng.

Conclusion

Korean Red Ginseng does show some promise as a testosterone booster. It can increase testosterone levels, particularly in men with fertility issues.

Scientific studies have failed to provide conclusive evidence in support of Siberian Ginseng’s efficacy as a testosterone booster.

Traditional Chinese medicine has explored the health and testosterone enhancing benefits of Ginseng for centuries. It is also very safe, meaning Korean Red Ginseng supplements can be used for testosterone support and other health benefits without side effects.