Clinical Effects of Korean Red Ginseng on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children: An Observational Study

  • Lee, Suk-Hwa (Department of Psychiatry and Environmental Health Center, Dankook University) ;
  • Park, Woo-Sung (Department of Pediatrics, Dankook University, College of Medicine) ;
  • Lim, Myung-Ho (Department of Psychiatry and Environmental Health Center, Dankook University)
  • Received : 2011.01.14
  • Accepted : 2011.03.01
  • Published : 2011.06.29


We investigated the clinical effects of Korean red ginseng on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Eighteen subjects aged between 6 and 14 diagnosed with ADHD based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition diagnosis criteria were enrolled. Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) at 1,000 mg b.i.d. was administered to the subjects for 8 weeks. Eighteen children completed the questionnaire and clinical assessment by visiting the hospital at baseline, then in the first, fourth and eighth weeks. Clinical assessments were performed by using the ADHD Diagnostic System (ADS, a computerized attention assessment program), the abbreviated Conners' rating scale in addition to psychiatric interviews. After 8 weeks, significant differences were found in the omisssion errors of ADS ($78.56{\pm}43.33$ at baseline, $55.17{\pm}21.44$ at 8 weeks, p<0.023), Conners ADHD Rating Scale ($13.78{\pm}6.32$ at baseline, $9.50{\pm}4.80$ at 8 weeks, p<0.042) and Spielberger State Anxiety Scale ($30.94{\pm}6.25$ at baseline, $28.83{\pm}6.23$ at 8 weeks, p<0.024). In the Korean Personality Inventory for Children, a significant reduction of score was found in the physical development scale ($56.44{\pm}9.63$ at baseline, $50.94{\pm}8.91$ at 8 weeks, p<0.017) and social dysfunction scale ($56.33{\pm}6.82$ at baseline, $51.94{\pm}7.13$ at 8 weeks, p<0.025). These results suggest that Korean red ginseng may be effective in improving inattentiveness in ADHD children, but it remains uncertain if it improves the general severity of ADHD, depression, anxiety personality and behavioral changes.


  1. Cho SC, Shin YO. Prevalence of disruptive behavior disorders. J Korean Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1994; 5:141-149.
  2. Pyo KS, Park SH, Kim SH, Cho YR, Kim HR, Moon KR. The prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in urban elementary school children. Gwangju: Department of Psychiatry, Josun University, 2001.
  3. Eaves LJ, Silberg JL, Meyer JM, Maes HH, Simonoff E, Pickles A, Rutter M, Neale MC, Reynolds CA, Erikson MT et al. Genetics and developmental psychopathology: 2. The main effects of genes and environment on behavioral problems in the Virginia Twin Study of Adolescent Behavioral Development. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 1997;38:965-980.
  4. Biederman J, Faraone SV. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Lancet 2005;366:237-248.
  5. Butterweck V, Wall A, Lieflander-Wulf U, Winterhoff H, Nahrstedt A. Effects of the total extract and fractions of Hypericum perforatum in animal assays for antidepressant activity. Pharmacopsychiatry 1997;30 Suppl 2:117-124.
  6. Ramassamy C, Naudin B, Christen Y, Clostre F, Costentin J. Prevention by Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) and trolox C of the decrease in synaptosomal dopamine or serotonin uptake following incubation. Biochem Pharmacol 1992;44:2395-2401.
  7. Ha DC, Ryu GH. Chemical components of red, white and extruded root ginseng. J Korean Soc Food Sci Nutr 2005;34:247-254.
  8. Park CK, Jeon BS, Yang JW. The chemical components of Korean ginseng. Food Ind Nutr 2003;8:10-23.
  9. Bhattacharya SK, Muruganandam AV. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2003;75:547-555.
  10. Gillis CN. Panax ginseng pharmacology: a nitric oxide link? Biochem Pharmacol 1997;54:1-8.
  11. Benishin CG. Actions of ginsenoside $Rb_1$ on choline uptake in central cholinergic nerve endings. Neurochem Int 1992;21:1-5.
  12. Sloley BD, Pang PK, Huang BH, Ba F, Li FL, Benishin CG, Greenshaw AJ, Shan JJ. American ginseng extract reduces scopolamine-induced amnesia in a spatial learning task. J Psychiatry Neurosci 1999;24:442-452.
  13. Itoh T, Zang YF, Murai S, Saito H. Effects of Panax ginseng root on the vertical and horizontal motor activities and on brain monoamine-related substances in mice. Planta Med 1989;55:429-433.
  14. D'Angelo L, Grimaldi R, Caravaggi M, Marcoli M, Perucca E, Lecchini S, Frigo GM, Crema A. A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study on the effect of a standardized ginseng extract on psychomotor performance in healthy volunteers. J Ethnopharmacol 1986;16:15-22.
  15. Lyon MR, Cline JC, Totosy de Zepetnek J, Shan JJ, Pang P, Benishin C. Effect of the herbal extract combination Panax quinquefolium and Ginkgo biloba on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a pilot study. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2001;26:221-228.
  16. Kim DH, Jung JS, Suh HW, Huh SO, Min SK, Son BK, Park JH, Kim ND, Kim YH, Song DK. Inhibition of stress-induced plasma corticosterone levels by ginsenosides in mice: involvement of nitric oxide. Neuroreport 1998;9:2261-2264.
  17. Chen X, Salwinski S, Lee TJ. Extracts of Ginkgo biloba and ginsenosides exert cerebral vasorelaxation via a nitric oxide pathway. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 1997;24:958-959.
  18. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994.
  19. Oh KJ, Lee H. Development of Korean child behavior checklist: a preliminary study. J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc 1990;29:452-462.
  20. Wirt RD, Lachar D, Klinedenst JK. Multidimensional description of child personality: a manual for the personality inventory for children. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services; 1977.
  21. Hong CH, Kim ST, Kim JH, Hwang ST. Development and standardization of the Korean Personality Inventory for Children. Ment Health Res 2001;20:198-212.
  22. Kovacs M. The children's depression inventory: a self-rated depression scale for school-aged youngsters [unpublished manuscript]. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1983.
  23. Spielberger CD, Gorsuch RL, Lushene RE. STAI manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory. Pal Alto: Consulting Psychologist Press; 1970.
  24. Shin MS, Cho SC, Chun SY, Hong KE. A study of the development and standardization of ADHD diagnostic system. J Korean Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2000;11:91-99.
  25. Oh KJ. Assessment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. J Korean Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1990;1:65-76.
  26. So YK, Noh JS, Kim YS, Ko SG, Koh YJ. The reliability and validity of Korean parent and teacher ADHD rating scale. Korean J Neuropsychiatr Assoc 2002;41:283-289.
  27. Cho SC, Lee YS. Development of the Korean form of the Kovacs' children's depression inventory. Korean J Neuropsychiatr Assoc 1990;29:943-956.
  28. Kim JT. Relationship between trait anxiety and sociability: focused on STAI of Spielberger [dissertation]. Seoul: Graduate School of Korea University, 1978.
  29. Cho SC, Choi JS. Development of the Korean form of the state-trait anxiety inventory for children. Seoul J Psychiatry 1989;14:150-157.
  30. Liu M, Zhang JT. Influence of ginsenoside Rb1 and Rg1 on some central neurotransmitter receptors and protein biosynthesis in mouse brain. Acta Pharmacol Sin 1996;17:171-174.
  31. Chen XC, Chen Y, Zhu YG, Fang F, Chen LM. Protective effect of ginsenoside Rg1 against MPTP-induced apoptosis in mouse substantia nigra neurons. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2002;23:829-834.
  32. Lian XY, Zhang Z, Stringer JL. Protective effects of ginseng components in a rodent model of neurodegeneration. Ann Neurol 2005;57:642-648.
  33. Park CU. Effect of Panax ginseng on CNS. J Ginseng Res 2001;25:11-18.
  34. Ma Y, Eun JS, Oh KW. Therapeutic effects of ginseng on psychotic disorders. J Ginseng Res 2007;31:117-126.
  35. Reay JL, Kennedy DO, Scholey AB. Effects of Panax ginseng, consumed with and without glucose, on blood glucose levels and cognitive performance during sustained 'mentally demanding' tasks. J Psychopharmacol 2006;20:771-781.
  36. Einat H. Chronic oral administration of ginseng extract results in behavioral change but has no effects in mice models of affective and anxiety disorders. Phytother Res 2007;21:62-66.
  37. Hong KE, Kim JH, Shin MS, Ahn DH. Diagnostic classification and assessment of psychiatrically referred children with inattention or hyperactivity. J Korean Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1996;7:190-202.
  38. Carr MN, Bekku N, Yoshimura H. Identification of anxiolytic ingredients in ginseng root using the elevated plus-maze test in mice. Eur J Pharmacol 2006;531:160-165.
  39. Rucklidge JJ, Johnstone J, Kaplan BJ. Nutrient supplementation approaches in the treatment of ADHD. Expert Rev Neurother 2009;9:461-476.

Cited by

  1. Effects of Korean Red Ginseng Extract on Behavior in Children with Symptoms of Inattention and Hyperactivity/Impulsivity: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial vol.24, pp.9, 2014,
  2. B Pathway in A549 Cells and Human Asthmatic Lung Tissue vol.2016, pp.2314-7156, 2016,
  3. Natural Compounds for the Management of Parkinson’s Disease and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder vol.2018, pp.2314-6141, 2018,