Human studies have suggested that ginseng ingestion may be a safe and effective alternative method for treatment of erectile dysfunction . Animal studies indicate that ginseng/ginsenosides mediate the release and/or the modification of release of NO from endothelial cells and perivascular nerves, and the consequent vasodilatation of the penile corpus cavernosum may contribute to the copulatory performance-enhancing action of ginseng. Ginsenosides have been shown to interact with steroid receptors and, through nongenomic pathways, activate NO production. How ginseng and its ginsenosides may act centrally to modulate sexual desire and copulatory performance is not known, but it could potentially involve activation of NO pathways, perhaps in brain areas involved in sexual behavior.
Acknowledgements We thank Dr. Rich Clough for his careful review and critique of this chapter; Dr. Yuqing Ho for the ginsenoside structure he prepared for us; and, to the authors of those relevant papers that were not included in this chapter, we thank you for understanding our space limitations and that omission does not mean lack of appreciation.
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