Summary: Ginseng can be effective in increasing testosterone levels, used alongside other supplements. It’s not one of my ‘must have’ ingredients but is definitely useful.
Ready below for my full analysis of the studies to get the science behind Ginseng’s effectiveness as a test booster.
Siberian Ginseng, also known as eleuthero, is a small shrubby plant with medicinal properties that have been used for a long time in traditional Chinese medicine. The root of the plant is the main source of the extract and is also used for preparing herbal tea.
The main active ingredients of Siberian Ginseng extract are Eleutheroside B and Eleutheroside E. Interestingly, Russian scientists classified Siberian Ginseng extract under a special category called “adaptogens.” An adaptogen is a substance that helps the body to adapt to different kinds and levels of stresses like cold, heat, trauma and psychological disturbance.
Currently, this extract is used as an immunity boosting, antidiabetic and performance-enhancing supplement. Scientific studies involving animal models and human trials indicate a positive effect of Ginseng extract on testosterone levels and male sexual behavior.
The Difference Between Siberian and Panax Ginseng
The root extract of Eleutherococcus senticosus used as Siberian ginseng is chemically distinct from American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian (Panax ginseng) ginseng. Siberian ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a number of autoimmune disorders like diabetes. It is also used to enhance natural immunity to combat routine illness and infections, improving physical performance and general well being.
The majority of bioefficacy studies on Siberian ginseng are on animal systems like rats and rabbits. The positive effect of the ethanolic extract has been observed in animal models and human clinical studies involving oligospermic males. The in-vitro studies and human clinical study findings also suggest that this extract helps in maintaining the hormonal values within the physiological limits. In addition to improving the performance in physically active athletes, Ginseng can also help in improving the action of a few drugs as it inhibits enzymes that metabolize the drugs within the body and negate their effect.
Siberian Ginseng can enhance the toxicity of drugs.
Study: An in-vitro study was conducted to understand the effect of Siberian Ginseng active ingredients on microsomes from the liver cells of rats. Microsomes are generally used to study the effects on enzymes related to important physiological functions like respiration. Microsomes were incubated with drugs like tolbutamide, testosterone and Siberian Ginseng active ingredients (Eleutheroside B and Eleutheroside E). Post incubation the metabolized products were detected using a specialized separation technique called high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
Result: The active ingredients found in Siberian Ginseng inhibit the activity of specific enzymes that are responsible for metabolizing the drugs.
Conclusion: Siberian Ginseng inhibits the enzymes that cause the degradation of drugs in the cells. In the presence of Ginseng extract, the toxicity/efficacy of drugs may be improved.
Ginseng extract ingredients increase testosterone levels in male mice.
Study: Wang and co-workers took up this study on male mice to study the effect of purified Ginsenoside, an ingredient from Siberian Ginseng extract. Mice were intraperitoneally injected with the purified extract at a concentration of 10mg per Kg body weight for 20 days. The main objective of the study was to assess the effect of ginseng extract on the copulatory behavior in male mice. Testosterone levels were evaluated before and after the study.
Results: Ginseng purified ingredients improved the parameters determining the male copulatory behavior in mice like mounting, intromission and pelvic thrust. Testosterone levels increased significantly after treatment with ginseng injections.
Conclusion: Active Ingredients in the Ginseng extract help elevate testosterone levels.
Panax Ginseng increases testosterone levels in oligospermic males.
Study: This human clinical study involving 66 young oligospermic patients was initiated to record the effect of Panax Ginseng extract on sperm morphology and count. At the end of the treatment, levels of reproductive hormones like the luteinizing hormone, testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone and prolactin were quantified.
Results: Panax Ginseng extracts improved semen quality like sperm count, motility and morphology. Administration of Ginseng extract enhanced the levels of important reproductive hormones except for prolactin.
Conclusion: Panax Ginseng extract elevates testosterone levels in males.
Panax Ginseng extract ( 5%) enhances testosterone levels and prostate weight in rats.
Study: Adult male rats were administered with 1% and 5% Panax Ginseng extract for sixty days. All through the study, the rats were monitored for change in appetite, physical activity and weight gain. At the end of the study period, testosterone levels were quantified, and body and prostate weights were determined.
Results: Male rats on 5% extract exhibited significantly higher testosterone levels and prostate weight. Investigators observed a higher feed intake but no weight gain.
Conclusion: Panax ginseng extract is effective in improving testosterone levels.
Siberian Ginseng does not improve the endurance performance.
Study: Authors have taken up an exhaustive review of all reported studies on the positive influence of Siberian Ginseng extract on endurance performance.
Results: Three studies reported that Siberian Ginseng extract significantly improved cardiorespiratory fitness and fat metabolism which ultimately enhances endurance performance. However, the authors found severe technical flaws in the experimental designs of these studies and the conclusions of these studies might hence be erroneous. Five reports showed that 1000-1200 mg Siberian extract administered daily for one to six weeks did not improve any of the above parameters. These studies followed a very rigorous experimental design, and the results did not show any positive effect on endurance performance.
Conclusion: Siberian Ginseng extract did not have any significant positive impact on cardio-respiratory fitness, fat metabolism and performance endurance.
Siberian Ginseng extract maintains levels of stress hormones under physiological threshold limits.
Study: Gaffney and co-workers complied a six-week human clinical trial using 33% of 8 ml Siberian ginseng extract administered per day. Endurance athletes undergoing in-season training were selected as subjects, and their hormone levels were estimated pre and post study.
Results: At the end of the study the levels of cortisol increased by 31% and the levels of testosterone dropped by 7% in the study subjects.
Conclusion: Siberian Ginseng extract either increases or decreases the levels of hormones to maintain the values between the physiologically important limits.
An important note of caution with ginseng is that like any other plant extract; it can have many chemical reactions with other drugs. Consuming these supplements along with other medications requires a physician’s approval.
Both Panax and Siberian Ginseng show promise as testosterone boosters. Panax (or korean red) is probably the more potent of the two so if I had to use one I would go with that. However, I would not expect too much from these as stand alone supplements, they would be better off stacked with other supplements and a well rounded diet for maximum impact.