Ginseng and Erectile Function

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Erectile dysfunction is commonly associated with diabetes, a condition that has well-characterized effects on peripheral tissue innervation and vascularization [21]. Penile intracavernous pressure after nerve stimulation was significantly lower in long-term diabetic rats relative to age-matched controls [22]. In diabetic rats treated with Korean red ginseng (30 mg kg-1) for one month, however, erectile function was not different from nondiabetic age-matched controls [22]. Ginseng use has also been shown to produce beneficial effects in clinical studies (Table 4.1) that evalu-

Time (seconds)

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Fig. 4.2 Ginseng treatment enhances copulatory behaviors in male rats. Animals were treated daily with either a sesame oil vehicle (control) or 100 mg kg-1 Panax quinquefolius for 28 d. When placed with sexually receptive female rats, latency (in seconds) to mount (ML), intromit (IL), and ejaculate (EL) were determined. * = p < 0.05 relative to control. (Figure adapted from [20])

ated the efficacy of ginseng use in men with erectile dysfunction [6, 10, 23-25]. In double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, men with diagnosed erectile dysfunction took 900 to 1000 mg of Korean red ginseng or placebo by mouth three times daily for either 8 or 12 weeks [23-25]. Using an International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) self-assessment, ginseng treatment produced significant improvement in IIEF scores when compared to placebo. The mean scores for erectile function, sexual desire, and intercourse satisfaction were significantly higher following ginseng treatment when compared to the placebo group after 8 weeks of treatment [25]. Individually, scores for penis rigidity, penetration, and maintenance of erection were significantly higher in the ginseng group. There was no effect of ginseng treatment on serum testosterone levels [25, 26], which was consistent with findings in animal studies [20].

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