Effect of Korean Red Ginseng as an adjuvant treatment for women with residual symptoms of major depression

Asia Pac Psychiatry. 2015 Sep;7(3):330-6. doi: 10.1111/appy.12169. Epub 2014 Dec 12.


Introduction: Around 20% of patients with major depression experience residual symptoms. Ginseng has shown potential antidepressant effects in some animal studies and in patients with stress-related somatic symptoms. Therefore, we investigated the effectiveness and tolerability of Korean Red Ginseng adjuvant treatment in patients with residual symptoms of major depression.

Methods: In this eight-week prospective study, 35 female outpatients aging from 18 to 65 years (45.1 ± 9.5), who were remitted from major depression with residual symptoms, were given Korean Red Ginseng at doses of 3 g/day. The Depression Residual Symptom Scale (DRSS) and Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) were administrated to evaluate depressive symptoms. The general severity of symptoms was assessed by a clinician using the Clinical Global Impressions Scale for Severity (CGI-S). The Depression and Somatic Symptom Scale (DSSS) was also used to evaluate somatic symptoms in the subjects. This trial is registered at Clinical.gov, number NCT01496248.

Results: Subjects reported significant decrease in depressive symptoms on the DRSS (P < 0.05) and MADRS (P < 0.01) decreased significantly over the eight-week period. The scores on the CGI-S, an objective measurement of symptoms, showed significant improvement in the severity of illness (P < 0.001). Somatic symptoms on the DSSS also attenuated significantly during the study period (P < 0.05).

Discussion: These results suggest that Korean Red Ginseng is efficacious as an adjuvant treatment for patients experiencing residual symptoms of major depression. Future placebo-controlled research is required to confirm our results.

Keywords: alternative treatment; depression; ginseng; residual symptom.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Capsules
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / methods
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Panax*
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Capsules
  • Plant Extracts

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01496248