Ginseng supplementation does not change lactate threshold and physical performances in physically active Thai men

J Med Assoc Thai. 2007 Jun;90(6):1172-9.


Background: Ginseng has been one of the most popular herbs said to improve human exercise performance. Unclear and anecdotal information is known about the effect of ginseng on lactate threshold and aerobic performance in humans.

Objective: The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of ginseng supplementation on lactate threshold in physically active young men.

Material and method: Sixty men from the Naval Medical Corps, Royal Thai Navy, aged 17- 22 years old, were randomized into either the ginseng (n = 30) or placebo (n = 30) group. The ginseng group took 3 grams of 100% ginseng orally, while the placebo group took an equal amount of lactose powder each day, for 8 weeks. Blood lactic acid levels for determination of lactate threshold (LT) were measured during an incremental cycle ergometer work. LT exercise performance, and heart rate (HR) responses to exercise were determined at baseline and after 8 weeks of ginseng and placebo consumption. Substrate oxidation rates during steady state exercise were assessed upon study completion. Selected markers for liver and kidney functions, including serum aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine were monitored for possible side effects of ginseng.

Results: L T before and after 8 weeks of supplementation in the ginseng group (164.5 +/- 32.8 and 170.9 +/- 26.4 watts), and in the placebo group (163.7 + 25.1 and 163.7 + 17.3 watts) were not different (p = 0.448). Both groups had a similar pattern of exercise heart rate (p = 0.918), total exercise time (p = 0.241), and peak power output (p = 0.411). After 8 weeks, the magnitude of difference between ginseng and placebo groups on oxidation rates of fat (3.82 +/- 10.0 cal. kg(-1). min(-1), p = 0.704) or carbohydrate (4.36 +/- 12.6 cal. kg(-1). min(-1), p = 0.731) was not statistically significant. There were no abnormal changes of markers of liver and renal functions after ginseng administration.

Conclusion: Daily administration of 3 g of ginseng for an 8-week period did not improve LT nor did it affect physical performances. Therefore, ginseng supplementation did not exert an ergogenic property on aerobic fitness enhancement in well-fit individuals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood*
  • Male
  • Military Medicine*
  • Military Personnel*
  • Panax*
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Placebos
  • Thailand


  • Placebos
  • Lactic Acid