Background: Evidence of ginseng for reducing blood pressure (BP) in hypertensive patients
is controversial. This systematic review updated the previous reviews and evidence for it.
Methods: Ten databases were searched from their inception through October 2016, without language
restriction. Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) were included if any types of ginseng were tested as the
sole treatment or as an adjunct to other treatments for pre-hypertension or hypertension. The risk of bias
(ROB) was assessed with Cochrane ROB tools by two independent reviewers.
Results: We found 528 potentially relevant articles, of which 9 RCTs met our inclusion criteria. Two
studies reported positive effects of Korean red ginseng (KRG) on acute reduction of systolic BP (SBP:
n=54, mean differences (MD), -6.52; P=0.0002; I2=0%) and diastolic BP DBP: MD, -5.21; P=0.0001;
I2=0%), while two other trials failed to do so with north American ginseng (NAG) in both SBP and
DBP. Five RCTs assessed the long-term effects of ginseng (KRG or NAG) on SBP and DBP. Two studies
showed positive effects of KRG on reducing SBP and DBP compared with placebo (SBP: n = 183,
MD, -2.92, P=0.04; I2 = 0%; DBP: MD, -3.19, P=0.008; I2 = 0%).
Conclusion: This systematic review provides positive evidence for the efficacy of KRG on reducing
blood pressure in patients with pre-hypertension and hypertension in acute and long-term. Future RCTs
appear to be warranted.