Recent experimental evidences suggest protective and trophic effects of ginseng in the memory function of Alzheimer disease (AD). Thus, we investigated the clinical efficacy of Panax ginseng in the cognitive performance of AD patients in an open-label study. Consecutive AD patients were randomly assigned to the ginseng (n=58) or the control group (n=39), and the ginseng group was treated with Panax ginseng powder (4.5 g/d) for 12 weeks. Cognitive performances were monitored using the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) and Alzheimer disease assessment scale (ADAS) during 12 weeks of the ginseng treatment and at 12 weeks after the ginseng discontinuation. MMSE and ADAS scales showed no baseline difference between the groups. After ginseng treatment, the cognitive subscale of ADAS and the MMSE score began to show improvements and continued up to 12 weeks (P=0.029 and P=0.009 vs. baseline, respectively). After discontinuing ginseng, the improved ADAS and MMSE scores declined to the levels of the control group. These results suggest that Panax ginseng is clinically effective in the cognitive performance of AD patients.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00391833.