Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review

Authors

  • Dai-Ja Jang,

    1. Korea Food Research Institute, Sungnam, South Korea,
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  • Myeong Soo Lee,

    Corresponding author
    1. Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, Exeter, UK,
    2. Department of Medical Research, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, South Korea and
      Dr Myeong Soo Lee PhD, Department of Medical Research, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, 305–811, South Korea
      Tel.: + 82 04 2868 9266
      Fax: + 82 04 2863 9464.
      E-mail: drmslee@gmail.com or mslee@kiom.re.kr
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  • Byung-Cheul Shin,

    1. Department of Oriental Rehabilitation Medicine, College of Oriental Medicine, Wonkwang University, Iksan, South Korea
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  • Young-Cheoul Lee,

    1. Korea Food Research Institute, Sungnam, South Korea,
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  • Edzard Ernst

    1. Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, Exeter, UK,
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Dr Myeong Soo Lee PhD, Department of Medical Research, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, 305–811, South Korea
Tel.: + 82 04 2868 9266
Fax: + 82 04 2863 9464.
E-mail: drmslee@gmail.com or mslee@kiom.re.kr

Abstract

AIMS

Korean red ginseng (unskinned Panax ginseng before it is steamed or otherwise heated and subsequently dried) is one of the most widely used herbal remedies. This systematic review evaluates the current evidence for the effectiveness of red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction.

METHODS

Systematic searches were conducted on 20 electronic databases without language restrictions. Hand-searches included conference proceedings and our files. All randomized clinical studies (RCT) of red ginseng as a treatment of erectile dysfunction were considered for inclusion. Methodological quality was assessed using the Jadad score.

RESULTS

Seven RCTs met all the inclusion criteria. Their methodological quality was low on average. Six of the included RCTs compared the therapeutic efficacy of red ginseng with placebo. The meta-analysis of these data showed a significant effect (n = 349, risk ratio, 2.40; 95% CI of 1.65, 3.51, p < 0.00001, heterogeneity: tau2 = 0.05, χ2 = 6.42, p = 0.27, I2 = 22%). Subgroup analyses also showed beneficial effects of red ginseng in psychogenic erectile dysfunction (n = 135, risk ratio, 2.05; 95% CI of 1.33, 3.16, p = 0.001, heterogeneity: χ2 = 0.08, p = 0.96, I2 = 0%).

CONCLUSIONS

Collectively these RCTs provide suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of red ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. However, the total number of RCTs included in the analysis, the total sample size and the methodological quality of the primary studies were too low to draw definitive conclusions. Thus more rigorous studies are necessary.

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