Panax Ginseng is one of the most widely used herbal medicines and is reported to have a wide range of therapeutic and pharmacological applications. Ginseng may also be potentially valuable in treating cardiovascular diseases. Research concerning cardiovascular disease is focusing on purified individual ginsenoside constituents of ginseng to reveal specific mechanisms instead of using whole ginseng extracts. One of the most commonly used and researched of the ginseng is Panax ginseng, also called Asian or Korean ginseng. The main active components of Panax ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects. Results of clinical research studies demonstrate that Panax ginseng may improve psychologic function, immune function, and conditions associated with diabetes.
Uses & Health benefits of Panax Ginseng
Erectile Dysfunction – Research has shown that ginseng may be a useful alternative for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men (21, 22). It seems that compounds in it may protect against oxidative stress in blood vessels and tissues in the penis and help restore normal function (23, 24). Additionally, studies have shown that ginseng may promote the production of nitric oxide, a compound that improves muscle relaxation in the penis and increases blood circulation (24, 25). One study found that men treated with Korean red ginseng had a 60% improvement in ED symptoms, compared to 30% improvement produced by a medication used to treat ED (26). Moreover, another study showed that 86 men with ED had significant improvements in erectile function and overall satisfaction after taking 1,000 mg of aged ginseng extract for 8 weeks (27). However, more studies are needed to draw definite conclusions about the effects of ginseng on ED (24).
- Ginseng has beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (4). Some test-tube studies have shown that ginseng extracts and ginseng side compounds could inhibit inflammation and increase antioxidant capacity in cells (5, 6). For example, one test-tube study found that Korean red ginseng extract reduced inflammation and improved antioxidant activity is skin cells from people with eczema (7). The results are promising in humans, as well. One study investigated the effects of having 18 young male athletes take 2 grams of Korean red ginseng extract three times per day for seven days. The men then had levels of certain inflammatory markers tested after performing an exercise test. These levels were significantly lower than in the placebo group, lasting for up to 72 hours after testing (8). However, it should be noted that the placebo group got a different medicinal herb, so these results should be taken with a grain of salt and more studies are needed. Lastly, a larger study followed 71 postmenopausal women who took 3 grams of red ginseng or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Antioxidant activity and oxidative stress markers were then measured.
- Work as an Anti-inflammatory Agent – Inflammation is a physiological response to various stimuli such as invading pathogens, irritants, and tissue injury, and can be classified as acute or chronic . In general, an acute inflammatory response has a rapid onset with short duration time and is characterized by a rapid movement of plasma proteins and leukocytes to the injured tissues . Although the acute response is a protective attempt to remove stimuli and to initiate the healing process, sustained inflammation may lead to detrimental, pathologic consequences on host . Such chronic inflammatory responses may result in significant tissue damages and develop to autoimmune diseases .
- Pain – There have been reports on pain-relieving effects of P. ginseng . Reported that ginsenosides could regulate the pain-related behavior of mice with capsaicin-induced pain in a dose-dependent manner. Lee et al. Demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of the fraction of P. ginseng in inflammatory pain mice models. Wang et al. Showed that glycoproteins extracted from P. ginseng exhibited a dose-dependent analgesic effect in mice by conducting acetic acid-induced writhing and hot-plate. Recently, a study also showed analgesic effect of P. ginseng in neuropathic pain animal models
- Anti-bacterial activity – For successful establishment of bacterial infections, it is necessary to have adhesion to host cells, colonization of tissues, and in certain cases, cellular invasion followed by intracellular multiplication, dissemination to other tissues, or persistence. In general, bacterial adhesion is mediated by certain interactions between adhesin from bacteria and carbohydrates on the surface of host cells. Studies have shown that ginseng polysaccharides could interact with microbes, interrupt microbial adhesion to host cells, and block the initiation of infectious disease.
- Anti-viral activity – Influenza virus, commonly referred to as the flu, can be influenced by RGE. After intranasal administration of ginseng extract with influenza virus A/PR8, significant increases in IgA as well as total IgG were observed in blood, lung, vaginal lavage, and fecal extract in mice. The increase in total IgG was comparable to that observed in the aluminium hydroxide or cholera toxin-adjuvant group. In addition, all serum IgG subtypes such as IgG1, IgG2a, IgG2b, and IgG3 antibodies were all augmented. Simultaneously, virus neutralization activity, cytokine production, body weight changes, and survival rates were all improved by ginseng treatment indicating that ginseng extract well-executes immunoregulatory function as an adjuvant.
- Parkinson’s disease – Several studies have recently reported that P. ginseng has a wide range of actions in the central nervous system, with promising effects on Parkinson’s disease. Demonstrated neuroprotective effects of the P. ginseng extract. It significantly reduced dopaminergic cell loss, preventing the development of locomotor deficits in chronic Parkinson’s disease model animals. Hu et al. Demonstrated that the water extract of P. ginseng has significant protective effects against parkinsonism-inducing cytotoxic agents, such as 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine and its active metabolite 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium, in mice. It increased the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, decreased cell death, promoted the release of cytochrome C, and suppressed the overproduction of reactive oxygen species.
- Cardiovascular effects – P. ginseng also produces numerous effects on the cardiovascular system . There have been studies suggesting the efficacy of P. ginseng on hypertension . It is known that P. ginsengregulates blood pressure to normal and thereby helps to elevate low blood pressure and to lower high blood pressure . It was reported that the effect of regulating high blood pressure is mediated by promoting vascular endothelial cell-derived nitric oxide secretion
- Anti Aging Property – Recent studies found a close relationship between angiogenesis and P. ginseng. P. ginseng and its ginsenosides reportedly modulate multiple steps of angiogenesis, such as inhibiting endothelial cell proliferation, formation of capillary tube, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced chemoinvasion . According to Choi et al. Korean Red Ginseng extracts efficiently decrease several angiogenic factors such as IL-8, hypoxia inducible factor-1a, VEGF, IL-6, and matrix metalloproteinases, implying the underlying mechanism of anti-angiogenesis.
- Alzheimer’s disease – Evidence shows that taking Panax ginseng root daily for 12 weeks can improve mental performance in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- COPD – Taking Panax ginseng by mouth seems to improve lung function and some symptoms of COPD.
- Mental function – Taking Panax ginseng by mouth might improve abstract thinking, mental arithmetic skills, and reaction times in healthy, middle-aged people but not in young adults. Panax ginseng alone does not seem to improve memory. But there is some evidence that a combination of Panax ginseng and ginkgo leaf extract can improve memory in otherwise healthy people between the ages of 38 and 66.
- Erectile dysfunction – Taking Panax ginseng by mouth seems to improve sexual function in men with erectile dysfunction. Taking a specific Panax ginseng by mouth appears to reduce the risk of getting a cold or the flu. But, taking Panax ginseng does not seem to reduce flu symptoms or the length of the illness.
- Multiple sclerosis-related fatigue – Taking Panax ginseng daily for 3 months reduces feelings of tiredness and improves quality of life in females with MS.
- Premature ejaculation – Applying a cream containing Panax ginseng, angelica root, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxyl species, torlidis seed, clover flower, asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom (SS Cream) to the penis one hour before intercourse and washing off immediately before intercourse seems to help prevent premature ejaculation.
- Sexual arousal – Taking powdered Korean red ginseng, a specific form of Panax ginseng, seems to improve sexual arousal and satisfaction in postmenopausal women. Also, using a specific product containing Korean red ginseng and other ingredients seems to improve sexual desire in women who report sexual problems.
- Athletic performance – Taking Panax ginseng by mouth for up to 8 weeks does not improve exercise performance.
- Age-related memory loss – Taking a specific product containing Panax ginseng and other ingredients (Memo, Pharco Pharmaceuticals) by mouth for 4 weeks improves memory in elderly people with some mental impairment.
- Breast cancer – Research conducted in China suggests that some people with breast cancer treated with any form of ginseng (American or Panax) have a higher quality of life and lower risk of death. However, this might not be a result of taking the ginseng. The people in the study were also likely to be treated with the prescription anticancer drug tamoxifen. It is difficult to know how much of the benefit to attribute to ginseng.
- Infection of the airways in the lung (bronchitis) – Taking a specific Panax ginseng extract (G115) by mouth, combined with antibiotics, might be more effective in killing bacteria in the lungs of people with long-term bronchitis than antibiotic treatment alone.
- Cancer – Research suggests that taking ginseng by mouth might decrease the occurrence of some types of cancer, including stomach cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, ovarian cancer, and skin cancer. However, other research shows that Panax ginseng doesn’t reduce the risk of getting cancer. But several studies show that Panax ginseng might slow cancer growth and improve quality of life in cancer patients.
- Cancer-related fatigue – Early research shows that Panax ginseng can moderately reduce fatigue in some people with cancer-related fatigue.
- Common cold – There is some evidence that taking a specific Panax ginseng extract (G115) by mouth can decrease the chance of catching a cold.
- Heart failure – Taking Panax ginseng by mouth daily, without or without conventional medications, seems to improve heart function.
- Diabetes – There is inconsistent evidence about the effects of Panax ginseng on diabetes. Some research shows that taking Panax ginseng by mouth daily can improve blood sugar levels. However, other research suggests that taking Panax ginseng (AIPOP, Gangdown-Do, Korea) or Korean red ginseng, a type of Panax ginseng, by mouth does not improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Fatigue – Early research shows that Panax ginseng can reduce fatigue in some people with chronic fatigue.
- Fibromyalgia – Research suggests that taking Panax ginseng root extract by mouth daily for 12 weeks does not improve pain, tiredness, sleep quality, anxiety, tender points, or quality of life in people with fibromyalgia.
- Gallbladder disease – Research suggests that taking Panax ginseng together with medication for 24 weeks does not reduce gallstones.
- Bad breath – Early research suggests that taking Korean red ginseng, a type of Panax ginseng, daily for 10 weeks helps reduce bad breath. This is especially true in people with stomach ulcers from H. pylori infection.
- Hangover – Research suggests that drinking a beverage containing Panax ginseng extract within 5 minutes of drinking alcohol and eating a piece of cheese might lower blood alcohol levels and reduce hangover symptoms.
- Hearing loss – Early research suggests that taking Panax ginseng for 14 days reduces temporary hearing loss caused by loud noise. But it might be less effective than N-acetyl cysteine at preventing temporary hearing loss caused by loud noise.
- HIV – Early evidence shows that Korean red ginseng, a type of Panax ginseng, might increase immune function. But it does not affect how much of the HIV virus is circulating in the blood of people with HIV.
- High blood pressure – There is inconsistent evidence about the effects of Panax ginseng on blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. Some early research shows that taking Panax ginseng in three divided doses daily for 8 weeks slightly reduces blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. But taking a specific Panax ginseng product (Ginseol K-g1) daily for 8 weeks does not reduce blood pressure in people with mildly high blood pressure.
- Prediabetes – Taking a combination of Korean red ginseng and cheonggukjang, a type of fermented soybean paste, can reduce pre-meal blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes. Also taking fermented Panax ginseng can reduce post-meal blood sugar levels and increase post-meal insulin levels in people with prediabetes.
- Male infertility – Swollen prostate caused by Chlamydia infection is associated with reduced male fertility. Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing Panax ginseng (Fertimev) along with an antibiotic improves sperm concentration and sperm movement in people with swollen prostate caused by Chlamydia.
- Memory – Taking a specific Panax ginseng extract (G115) together with vitamins, minerals, and dimethylaminoethanol bitartrate might improve memory in people with memory problems.
- Menopausal symptoms – Panax ginseng seems to improve some, but not all, symptoms associated with menopause. Some early research suggests that Panax ginseng might improve quality of life and menopausal symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia, and depression in postmenopausal women. Panax ginseng also seems to reduce cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women. There are mixed results regarding whether Panax ginseng reduces hot flashes. Panax ginseng does not appear to improve memory or concentration in postmenopausal women.
- Quality of life – While some research suggests that Panax ginseng might improve quality of life, other research shows no benefit. Wrinkled skin. Early research shows that taking a combination of Korean red ginseng root with Torilus fructus and Corni fructus daily for 24 weeks might reduce wrinkles. But it does not appear to affect skin moisture, elasticity, thickness, or color.
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