Efficacy of Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) for middle-aged and moderate level of chronic fatigue patients: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Complement Ther Med. 2020 Jan:48:102246. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102246. Epub 2019 Nov 19.


Objectives: Chronic fatigue (CF) is unexplained fatigue lasting more than 6 months. Korean red ginseng (KRG) is known to have higher anti-fatigue substance than white ginseng. However, its efficacy and safety for CF is unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of KRG on CF by various measurements and objective indicators.

Design: A randomized, double-blind, clinical trial was conducted on 50 patients with CF.

Intervention: Participants were allocated to KRG or placebo group (1:1 ratio) and visited hospital every 2 weeks during taking 3 g KRG or placebo for 6 weeks and followed up 4 weeks after the treatment.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measurement was fatigue VAS. Secondary outcome measurements included FSS, CFSQ, SRI, scales of various fields (Depression: BDI; Sleep: ISI; Quality of life: EQ-5D 5 L), biochemical test (Antioxidants: d-ROMs, TBARS, BAP, and SOD; Cortisol concentration: salivary cortisol), blinding assessment, and adverse events.

Results: The fatigue VAS declined significantly in each group, but there were no significant differences between the groups. The 2 groups also had no significant differences in the secondary outcome measurements and there were no adverse events. Sub-group analysis indicated that patients with initial fatigue VAS below 80 mm and older than 50 years had significantly greater reductions in the fatigue VAS if they used KRG rather than placebo.

Conclusions: By our study, KRG did not show absolute anti-fatigue effect but provided the objective evidence of fatigue-related measurement and the therapeutic potential for middle-aged individuals with moderate fatigue.

Keywords: Antioxidants; Chronic fatigue; Cortisol concentration; Korean red ginseng.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Capsules
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Panax*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Republic of Korea
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antioxidants
  • Capsules
  • Plant Preparations
  • Hydrocortisone