Objective: To assess the time-dependent effects of Panax ginseng on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) by use of a general health status questionnaire.
Methods: Subjects were randomized in a double-blind manner to P. ginseng 200 mg/d (n = 15) or placebo (n = 15) for 8 weeks. The Short Form-36 Health Survey version 2 (SF-36v2), a validated general health status questionnaire, was used to assess HRQOL at baseline and at 4 and 8 weeks. HRQOL between the groups was compared by use of repeated-measures analysis of covariance. A p value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: There were no significant differences in baseline demographics and SF-36v2 scores between the groups. After 4 weeks of therapy, higher scores in social functioning (P. ginseng 54.9+/-4.6 vs. placebo 49.2+/-6.5; p = 0.014), mental health (P. ginseng 52.2+/-7.7 vs. placebo 47.2+/-7.3; p = 0.075), and the mental component summary (P. ginseng 51.3+/-7.4 vs. placebo 44.3+/-8.3; p = 0.019) scales were observed in patients randomized to P. ginseng; these differences did not persist to the 8-week time point. The incidence of adverse effects was 33% in the P. ginseng group compared with 17% in the placebo group (p = 0.40). Subjects given P. ginseng (58%) were more likely to state that they received active therapy than subjects given placebo (17%; p < 0.05).
Conclusions: P. ginseng improves aspects of mental health and social functioning after 4 weeks of therapy, although these differences attenuate with continued use.