Ginseng: potential for the enhancement of cognitive performance and mood

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):687-700. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(03)00126-6.


Ginseng has been used medicinally in the Far East for several millennia and is currently one of the most widely taken herbal products throughout the world. It has been attributed with a plethora of physiological effects that could potentially benefit cognitive performance or mood. Studies involving animals show that ginseng and its constituent ginsenosides can modulate indices of stress, fatigue, and learning. However, there is a lack of adequately controlled research showing behavioural effects following chronic administration to humans. Recent research has demonstrated that single doses of ginseng most notably engender cognitive benefits in terms of improved memory, but can also be associated with 'costs' in terms of attention task deficits following less mnemonically beneficial doses. A single dose of ginseng has also been shown to modulate cerebroelectrical (EEG) activity. It is suggested that ginseng would benefit from rigorous research further delineating its acute effects and exploring the relationship between acute effects and those seen during and following chronic administration regimens.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Affect / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nootropic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Nootropic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Panax*


  • Nootropic Agents