According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, over 16 million American adults suffer from depression. Unfortunately, even once the major factors of depression seem under control or at least tended to with medications, therapy, or some combination of the two, there are still residual symptoms that stubbornly hold on.
One of the challenges of treating residual symptoms is finding something safe, but effective, that can be added to the current medication. Clinical research with Korean red ginseng may provide an answer.
Korean red ginseng consists of the main and lateral roots of Panax gingseng, and is steamed and processed in such a way that it concentrates the plants beneficial compounds, ginsenosides, for the greatest adaptogenic effects. Adaptogens like ginseng are renowned for their ability to help people feel more energetic, focused, and better able to deal with stressors.
In an eight-week study, women with major depression and residual symptoms found that a Korean red ginseng extract significantly reduced pain, lack of focus, the general sense of lethargy, and other somatic symptoms that affect about 20 percent of those with depression. While the researchers recognize that further work is necessary to evaluate the botanical’s full potential, it is certainly good news.
Jeong HG, Ko YH, Oh SY, Han C, Kim T, Joe SH. 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.
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.