Red Ginseng Lowers Blood Pressure, Boosts Testosterone, Aids Metabolic Syndrome
Research has confirmed that Korean Red Ginseng is great for the heart and blood vessels. It has been found to reduce high blood pressure and high blood sugar. It also increases boosts testosterone levels in men and increases metabolism while reducing inflammation.
What is Red Ginseng?
Korean Red Ginseng is Panax ginseng that has been steamed at 212 F (98-100 C) for 2-3 hours. This processing makes available higher levels of phytocompounds, which have been found to be anti-cancer and anti-aging among others.
Korean Red Ginseng has been renowned for centuries for increasing lifespan and boosting energy levels. Now we find scientific research is confirming these traits.
Research from South Korea’s Yonsei University studied 62 patients who were diagnosed with pre-clinical hypertension. For 12 weeks, half of the patients were given five grams of red ginseng in capsules. The other half was given a placebo.
The researchers found that the ginseng group showed an average reduction of 6.5 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure and 5 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure.
The ginseng group also had reductions in lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2). This is related to the health of the blood vessels. They also had greater increases in lysophosphatidylcholines (lysoPCs). These are also seen in improved blood vessel health.
Blood pressure is related to healthy vasodilation. Vasodilation relates directly to the flexibility of our blood vessels.
A clinical study from St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto found that red ginseng boosts vasodilation – increasing the health and longevity of blood vessels.
The researchers gave three grams of powdered red ginseng to 16 healthy adults on four different occasions. They were tested for blood pressure and blood vessel vasodilation – which is the ability of the blood vessels to expand and contract. Another way of stating this is flexibility. Better vasodilation relates to better blood vessel wall flexibility.
This was a placebo-controlled, double-blind study with crossover design.
The researchers tested the subjects for vasodilation at the brachial artery 90 minutes and 180 minutes after receiving the red ginseng.
The research found that the red ginseng significantly changed the flow-mediated vasodilatation compared to the placebo.
The researchers then tested two fractions of the constituents to see what were the active constituents. They found that a ginsenosides extract produced a similar vasodilation effect, but not a polysaccharide extract.
The researchers concluded:
“Korean red ginseng acutely improved endothelial function in healthy individuals, which appears to be attributable to its ginsenoside containing fraction. Our data confirm preclinical data and support the potential for these compounds as targets for therapeutic strategies in disorders involving endothelial dysfunction.”
Helps metabolic syndrome
Another study from Yonsei University studied 62 men with metabolic syndrome for four weeks. Half the men were given 3 grams of ginseng per day and the other half received a placebo. After four weeks, the researchers found that the ginseng group showed significant improvements in their metabolic syndrome markers.
The research also found that the ginseng boosted their testosterone levels significantly. They also boosted IGF-1 (growth hormone) and cortisol levels were decreased. Cortisol is linked to inflammation.
This study also found the men showed significant reductions in diastolic blood pressure.
Aids stroke recovery
A 2018 study from Kyung Hee University in South Korea found that red ginseng improved blood vessel sensorimotor deficits. This would allow the herb to hasten recovery after a stroke.
Improves glucose control
Another clinical study, from the Republic of Korea’s Yonsei University, found that red ginseng significantly improves glucose control among newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients.
The researchers studied 41 recently diagnosed diabetes patients. Half were given a placebo and half were given five grams of Korean red ginseng in tablet form for twelve weeks.
The researchers tested their blood levels of insulin, glucose and C-peptides using two-hour glucose tolerance testing.
The patients given the Korean red ginseng showed a significant decrease in glucose levels at 30 minutes – by 22.24 mg/dL (serum) and 17.5 mg/dL (whole blood).
The red ginseng group also had lower glucose levels at zero minutes and lower glucose area-under-the-curve levels.
The placebo group showed little or no change in glucose parameters.
The red ginseng group also showed lower C-peptide concentrations compared with the placebo group.
What the heck are C-peptides?
C-peptides provide linkages for insulin chains, as well as help insulin bind to cell receptors.
Lower C-peptide levels in a type 2 diabetes patient are a good thing because higher levels indicate greater insulin resistance. In type 2 diabetes the person is still producing insulin but the cells have become more resistant to it so there will be more C-peptide in the blood along with insulin.
Lower C-peptide levels in type 1 diabetes are not good, because this indicates that the pancreas is not producing much insulin. C-peptide is a better measurement of insulin production in a type 1 diabetes patient because of injected insulin.
Other studies blood glucose control
Research from the University of Toronto conducted a study of 19 type 2 diabetes patients. They gave the patients either a placebo or two grams of red ginseng three times a day with meals – six grams per day total – for three months.
The red ginseng group saw an 8-11% reduction in glucose tolerance tests and fasting plasma insulin levels went down by 33-38% compared to the placebo group. The red ginseng group also had a reduction of insulin sensitivity by 33% compared to the placebo group.
Other research has showed how American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) controls blood sugar.
Safety and choice
All of these studies and others have shown red ginseng to be safe, without side effects. Korean red ginseng is the standard product used because Korean producers have a long traditional history of ginseng production and steaming.
Most supplements are in capsule or tablet form, as the whole powder is crushed. However, standardized extracts will provide a more reliable dose. The studies above utilized whole red ginseng in tablets that were standardized to ginsenosides.
Red ginseng can also be taken in a tea.
Red ginseng is not advised if you are taking any medications for blood pressure or insulin. In fact, taking any herb while taking medications can be problematic.
Cha TW, Kim M, Kim M, Chae JS, Lee JH. Blood pressure-lowering effect of Korean red ginseng associated with decreased circulating Lp-PLA2 activity and lysophosphatidylcholines and increased dihydrobiopterin level in prehypertensive subjects. Hypertens Res. 2016 Jun;39(6):449-56.
Jung DH, Lee YJ, Kim CB, Kim JY, Shin SH, Park JK. Effects of ginseng on peripheral blood mitochondrial DNA copy number and hormones in men with metabolic syndrome: A randomized clinical and pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Feb;24:40-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2015.12.001.
Liu L, Vollmer MK, Fernandez VM, Dweik Y, Kim H, Doré S. Korean Red Ginseng Pretreatment Protects Against Long-Term Sensorimotor Deficits After Ischemic Stroke Likely Through Nrf2. Front Cell Neurosci. 2018 Mar 23;12:74. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2018.00074.
Jovanovski E, Peeva V, Sievenpiper JL, Jenkins AL, Desouza L, Rahelic D, Sung MK, Vuksan V. Modulation of endothelial function by korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng c.a. Meyer) and its components in healthy individuals: a randomized controlled trial. Cardiovasc Ther. 2014 Apr 23. doi: 10.1111/1755-5922.12077.
Bang H, Kwak JH, Ahn HY, Shin DY, Lee JH. Korean red ginseng improves glucose control in subjects with impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, or newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Med Food. 2014 Jan;17(1):128-34. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.2889.
Vuksan V, Sung MK, Sievenpiper JL, Stavro PM, Jenkins AL, Di Buono M, Lee KS, Leiter LA, Nam KY, Arnason JT, Choi M, Naeem A. Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) improves glucose and insulin regulation in well-controlled, type 2 diabetes: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of efficacy and safety. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2008 Jan;18(1):46-56.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with nature by surfing, hiking, running, biking and according to Dad, being a total beach bum.