GinsengSleep (Insomnia)

Effects of red ginseng extract on sleep in healthy volunteers

ginssengThe ginseng root has been traditionally used as a sedative.

Researchers at Kwandong University, in Gangreung, Republic of Korea studied the response to red ginseng extract by human volunteers.

First, the details.

  • Red ginseng extract 1500 mg was administered to 15 young male healthy volunteers (15 to 37 years old) 3 times a day for 7 days.
  • Overnight sleep studies were performed 2 times
    • 1 day before red ginseng extract administration
    • After 7 days of red ginseng extract treatment
  • Differences in sleep parameters were recorded.

And, the results.

  • Changes before treatment to 7 days after starting treatment
    • Total wake time (duration of wakefulness between sleep times) was significantly reduced.
    • Sleep efficacy (total sleep time/time in bed) increased significantly.
    • Slow wave sleep stage 1 sleep (lightest stage of non-REM, with slow eye movements often present) was reduced significantly.
    • Non-rapid eye movement (the primary phase for about 75% of total sleep time) sleep significantly increased.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “It is presumed that red ginseng extract intake would improve the quality of sleep, thus having beneficial effects on sleep-disturbed subjects.

These results advance earlier research in rodents reported here, here, here, and here  that red ginseng extract or Panax ginseng exert positive effects on sleep.

It would be a stretch to assume that these results in healthy volunteers would apply to all people with sleep problems.

In patients with fibromyalgia the Panax ginseng group was associated with significantly improved sleep compared to no treatment, although amitriptyline (Elavil) treatment resulted in significantly greater improvements.

No other studies appeared on a PubMed search.

9/3/13 11:26 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.