Antifatigue effects of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 17;8(4):e61271. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061271. Print 2013.

Abstract

The present study investigated the antifatigue effects of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer in 90 subjects (21 men and 69 women) with idiopathic chronic fatigue (ICF) in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled and parallel designed trial. A bespoke 20% ethanol extract of P. ginseng (1 g or 2 g day(-1)) or a placebo was administered to each group for 4 weeks, and then fatigue severity was monitored using a self-rating numeric scale (NRS) and a visual analogue scale (VAS) as a primary endpoint. Serum levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), malondialdehyde (MDA), total glutathione (GSH) contents and glutathione reductase (GSH-Rd) activity were determined. After 4-week, P. ginseng administration decreased the total NRS score, but they were not statistically significant compared with placebo (P>0.05). Mental NRS score was significantly improved by P. ginseng administrations as 20.4 ± 5.0 to 15.1 ± 6.5 [95% CI 2.3 ~ 8.2] for 1 g and 20.7 ± 6.3 to 13.8 ± 6.2 [95% CI -0.1 ~ 4.2] for 2 g compared with placebo 20.9 ± 4.5 to 18.8 ± 2.9 [95% CI 4.1 ~ 9.9, P<0.01]. Only 2 g P. ginseng significantly reduced the VAS score from 7.3 ± 1.3 to 4.4 ± 1.8 [95% CI 0.7∼1.8] compared with the placebo 7.1 ± 1.0 to 5.8 ± 1.3 [95% CI 2.2 ~ 3.7, P<0.01]. ROS and MDA levels were lowered by P. ginseng compared to placebo. P. ginseng 1 g increased GSH concentration and GSH-Rd activity. Our results provide the first evidence of the antifatigue effects of P. ginseng in patients with ICF, and we submit that these changes in antioxidant properties contribute in part to its mechanism.

Trial registration: Clinical Research Information Service (CRIS) KCT0000048.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Catalase / blood
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatigue / blood
  • Fatigue / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Glutathione / blood
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / blood
  • Glutathione Reductase / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Panax / chemistry*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Placebos
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / blood
  • Superoxide Dismutase / blood
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Antioxidants
  • Placebos
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione Reductase
  • Glutathione

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant from the National Research Foundation (and R01-2007-000-11248-0 and 20110003150) from the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.