Ginseng, a traditional herbal adaptogen, historically used in the Far East, has gained popularity in the West for its restorative properties.
Ginsenosides, the active component of ginseng are known to exert a variety of actions by targeting multireceptor systems both extracellular and intracellular. As a result many of its physiological effects remain unclear, particularly in humans. This study aims to investigate whether ginseng can influence salivary androgen levels (testosterone and DHEA) in females.
Twenty-Four females were recruited for the study and divided into 2 groups (Group 1 aged 2030 and Group 2 aged 3850 years). The project has received ethical approval from QMUC ethical committee. Volunteers were asked to maintain a food diary for 48 hours pre and post ginseng consumption and collect 4 salivary samples (after wakening, 0900 hours, 1200 hours and 1700 hours) before and after ingesting 650 mg Korean Gensing per day for 7 days. Testosterone and DHEA were then assayed in all samples by ELISA methods.
For the young group: Mean daily salivary testosterone pre-gensing ingestion was 111.2±66.1 pg/mL and post gensing was 133.6±80.2 pg/mL (related t-test P=0.091). Mean daily salivary DHEA pre-gensing ingestion was 1.977±0.38 ng/mL and post gensing was 2.04±1.58 ng/mL (related t-test P=0.899). For the older group: Mean daily salivary testosterone pre-gensing ingestion was 56.1±14.8 pg/mL and post gensing was 65.1±11.1 pg/mL (related ttest P=0.032). Mean daily salivary DHEA pre-gensing ingestion was 1.02±0.665 ng/mL and post gensing was 1.72±1.11 ng/mL (related t-test P=0.034).
In conclusion, it appears that ingestion of Korean gensing has significantly increased salivary testosterone and DHEA in the older women (aged 3850 years old), but there was no significant difference in the level of either steroid in the younger group. These data suggest a role for gensing in modulating salivary androgen levels and that such effect might be more evident in women above the age of 40 years where the levels of androgens, and particularly DHEA start to decline.