Background and purpose: Ginseng is one of the most popular herbs worldwide. Ginseng has various medical applications, and it seems to have significant effects as a cognition-enhancing drug. In this study, we examined the efficacy of Korean red ginseng (KRG) as an adjuvant therapy to conventional anti-dementia medications in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
Methods: The trial was designed as a 12-week randomized study. Sixty-one patients (24 males and 37 females) with Alzheimer's disease were randomly assigned to one of the following treatment groups: low-dose KRG (4.5 g/day, n = 15), high-dose KRG (9 g/day, n = 15) or control (n = 31). The Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS), Korean version of the Mini-Mental Status Examination (K-MMSE) and Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale were used to assess the change in cognitive and functional performance at the end of the 12-week study period.
Results: The patients in the high-dose KRG group showed significant improvement on the ADAS and CDR after 12 weeks of KRG therapy when compared with those in the control group (P = 0.032 and 0.006 respectively). The KRG treatment groups showed improvement from baseline MMSE when compared with the control group (1.42 vs. -0.48), but this improvement was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: KRG showed good efficacy for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease; however, further studies with larger samples of patients and a longer efficacy trial should be conducted to confirm the efficacy of KRG.