Panax ginseng is an adaptogenic herb with claimed benefits for endurance and athletic performance. A study looked at the effect of panax ginseng on cardiovascular performance, and found that panax ginseng did not have any effect on performance.
36 healthy male subject took either 1g or 2g of panax ginseng or a placebo for 8 weeks. Before and after supplementation their aerobic fitness was tested. Only 31 subjects actually completed the study. Among the 31 remaining subjects, it was found that panax ginseng had no effect on a variety of parameters relating to cardiovascular performance during both submaximal and maximal aerobic exercise.
The fact that 5 subjects dropped out of the study mid-way through sort of takes a bit of credibility away from the results. Although the subjects were “healthy” they were not necessarily trained in aerobic exercise let alone elite athletes. A study performed on high level athletes may yield different results. These results do demonstrate, however, that for most people who train recreationally supplementation with panax ginseng will probably not do a whole lot for exercise performance.
Engels HJ, & Wirth JC. (1997). No ergogenic effects of ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer) during graded maximal aerobic exercise. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 97(10), 1110-5.
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