Does anoyone know of any medical condition that the supplement ginseng is effective (with evidence in literature) in combating?

I am looking for an application that is well studied and have respectable paper written on it; preferably, a musculoskeletal or exercise related medical condition.

1 Answer 1


First, it is important to realize that there are two main types of ginseng in wide use: Asian ginseng and American ginseng. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has information on both types.

Uses of Asian Ginseng

  • Treating angina, a form of chest pain
  • Treating diabetes
  • Treating HIV/AIDS
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Treating sexual dysfunction
  • Improving strength/stamina

Research does not strongly support the effectiveness of most of these uses, with the possible exception of immune stimulation and diabetes treatment, though neither effect may be substantial.1

Uses of American Ginseng

  • Improving athletic performance
  • Preventing/treating cancer
  • Treating diabetes
  • Stimulating the immune system
  • Increasing strength/stamina

Again, American ginseng succeeds a little in the same areas as its Asian counterpart, but completely fails to improve athletic performance or treat cancer.2

I highly recommend going through the list of references given on each page. Most are specific, but some are good overviews, including Vogler et al. (1999). Additionally, note that both MSKCC pages point out that ginseng can have many negative side effects, so use of it may be detrimental.

In answer to your specific request for an exercise/musculoskeletal condition, the response is that no, ginseng has not been shown to be helpful in these respects. There is no data to show that it can boost athletic performance, as I mentioned above.

1 Similar claims have also been made for Indian ginseng. Note, however, that it belongs to a completely different family from that of Asian and American ginseng, and should not really be considered a ginseng.
2 This overview states otherwise, but data is slim. Note also the long list of potential side effects of ginseng given there (See also Posadzki (2013)).

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