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Ginseng

In vitro effects of echinacea and ginseng on natural killer and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity in healthy subjects and chronic fatigue syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome patients.

Immunopharmacology (NETHERLANDS) Jan 1997, 35 (3) p229-35

Extracts of Echinacea purpurea and Panax ginseng were evaluated for their capacity to stimulate cellular immune function by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from normal individuals and patients with either the chronic fatigue syndrome or the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. PBMC isolated on a Ficoll-hypaque density gradient were tested in the presence or absence of varying concentrations of each extract for natural killer (NK) cell activity versus K562 cells and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) against human herpesvirus 6 infected H9 cells. Both echinacea and ginseng, at concentrations or = 0.1 or 10 micrograms/kg, respectively, significantly enhanced NK-function of all groups. Similarly, the addition of either herb significantly increased ADCC of PBMC from all subject groups. Thus, extracts of Echinacea purpurea and Panax ginseng enhance cellular immune function of PBMC both from normal individuals and patients with depressed cellular immunity.


Efficacy and safety of the standardized ginseng extract G 115 for potentiating vaccination against common cold and/or influenza syndrome

Drugs under Experimental and Clinical Research (Switzerland), 1996, 22/2 65-72)

The aim of the study was to determine the properties of a standardized extract of ginseng root in inducing a higher immune response in vaccination against influenza. Attention was also paid to the common cold in this multicentre, two-arm, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind investigation. A total of 227 volunteers who visited 3 private practices in Milan received daily oral capsule doses of either placebo (113) or 100 mg of standardized ginseng extract Ginsana G115 (114) for a period of 12 weeks within which they received an anti- influenza polyvalent vaccination at week 4. As a result, while the frequency of influenza or common cold between weeks 4 and 12 was 42 cases in the placebo group, it was only 15 cases in the G115 group, the difference being statistically highly significant (p < 0.001). Whereas antibody titres by week 8 rose to an average of 171 units in the placebo group, they rose to an average of 272 units in the G115 group (p < 0.0001). Natural killer (NK) activity levels at weeks 8 and 12 were nearly twice as high in the G115 group as compared to the placebo group (p < 0.0001). In all the volunteers, laboratory values of 24 safety parameters showed no significant differences between the end and the beginning of the 12-week study in either of the groups. There were only 9 adverse events in the study, the principal one being insomnia.


Immunity in myocardiac hypertrophy rat and effect of total saponins of panax ginseng in vivo and in vitro

Chinese Pharmacological Bulletin (China), 1996, 12/1 (84- 86)

The model of rat myocardiac hypertrophy through stricture on abdominal aorta partly by operation showed that proliferation of T cell in thymus and spleen decreased and IL-2 secretion reduced markedly when rat blood pressure increased and the wall of left ventricular thickened. Total saponins of panax ginseng (TSPG 50 mg.kg-1.d-1, sc ) could harmonize the higher blood pressure and increase the level of immunity, suggesting TSPG may be used to strengthen the heart function as well as immunity.


Natural product formulations available in Europe for psychotropic indications

Psychopharmacology Bulletin (USA), 1995, 31/4 (745-751)

Until the middle of this century, development of medical treatment for human disease was intimately connected with the plant kingdom. Despite advances of the last three decades in utilizing chemical synthetic approaches to drug design and sophisticated structure-activity studies, there is still a great need for novel compounds with unique mechanisms of action in the field of medicine. While many thousands of structural analogs have been synthesized and tested, numerous gaps remain in the therapeutic armamentarium for psychiatric illnesses. Most new drugs marketed for psychotherapeutic indications in recent years have been only incremental improvements on existing medications. Major breakthroughs have resulted primarily from the study of natural products. Some of our most valuable drugs have been isolated from plant and animal sources, including aspirin, morphine, reserpine (the first antipsychotic), almost all of our antibiotics, digitalis, and such anti-cancer agents as vincristine, vinblastine, and taxol. Recent political and social events suggest that new emphasis will be placed on natural products research in the years to come. This article highlights therapeutic applications of Ginkgo biloba, Hypericum perforatum, Valerian officinalis, and Panex ginseng.


In vivo radioprotective activity of Panax ginseng and diethyldithiocarbamate.

In Vivo; 7(5): 467-70 1993

Studies were performed to determine whether the water fraction and the alkaloid fraction of Panax ginseng protect against radiation damage to jejunal crypts of N: GP (s) mice and induction of micronuclei (MN) in cytokinesis- blocked (CB) lymphocytes of C57BL/6 mice after in vivo irradiation with 60Co gamma-rays. The radioprotective effect of ginseng was compared with the effect of diethyldithiocarbamate (DDC). Jejunum was protected by the water fraction (2 mg/ml of drinking water) (P < 0.001) and the alkaloid fraction (5.4 mg/day, P.O.) (P < 0.005), both pre-and post-treatment, and by DDC (1000 mg/kg B.W., single I.P., 30 minutes before 15 Gy irradiation) (P < 0.001). The frequency of radiation (3 Gy)-induced micronuclei in spleen lymphocytes was also reduced by pretreatment of water fraction, alkaloid fraction of ginseng (P < 0.025) and DDC (P < 0.001). The data suggested that the water fraction and alkaloid fractions of Panax ginseng may reduce cell damage caused by gamma-rays, especially damage to DNA molecules, and play a role in the repair or regeneration process of damaged cells.


Inhibition of mutagenesis and transformation by root extracts of panax ginseng in vitro

Planta Med; 57(2): 125-8 1991

The root extract of Panax ginseng was investigated for its inhibitory effects on DNA synthesis, mutagenicity, and cellular transformation using V79 and NIH 3T3 cells. DNA synthesis measured by the [3H] thymidine incorporation into V79 Chinese hamster lung cells was significantly decreased by the addition of ginseng extract (0-1 microgram/ml) to the medium. However, ginseng extract was found to increase the rate of DNA excision repair synthesis in V79 cells in response to treatment with UV radiation or methyl methanesulfonate. The extract also showed decreased mutation frequency when mutagenicity was examined using V79 cells at the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl transferase locus as resistance to 6- thioguanine after exposure to methyl methanesulfonate. We also found that the components of ginseng extract continue to exert an inhibitory effect on the transformation of NIH 3T3 cells initiated by 3-methylchloanthrene, methyl methanesulfonate, and 1-methyl-3-nitro-1-nitrosoguanidine.


Restoration of radiation injury by ginseng. Ii. Some properties of the radioprotective substances

J Radiat Res (Tokyo); 22(3): 336-343

Some properties of the radioprotective substance ginseng extract (GE) were studied in male 4-wk-old JCL-ICR mice. Prior to injection GE was dissolved in physiological saline and insolubles discarded after centrifugation. Mice injected with only physiological saline served as controls. The 30-day survival ratio was measured in both groups. Methanol-soluble GE did not protect the irradiated animals. Acid or alkali (0.12 N) inactivated GE at 60 C. GE radioprotective activity was stable after heating in physiological saline at pH 7 in a boiling-water bath for 15 min. GE was separated into two fractions by CM- cellulose column chromatography. Fraction CM-A was significantly efficacious at p less than 0.05, and CM-B was effective at p less than 0.001; doses were proportional to yield. UV spectrum and biuret tests suggested the presence of protein in the CM-B fraction. Supernatant obtained after heating the CM-B solution at pH 7 was separated into fractions G-I, G-II, and G-III by gel chromatography with a Sephadex G-75 column. G-I (0.44 mg/animal) and G-III (0.84 mg/animal) were significantly efficacious, but G-II (0.47 mg/animal) was not. The active component in ginseng had been thought to be ginseng saponin. Examination of the methanol-soluble fraction showed that the radioprotective component of GE is not saponin. Purification of the radioprotective substance is needed to clarify the chemical structure. (9 Refs)


Restoration of radiation injury by ginseng. I. Responses of x-irradiated mice to ginseng extract

J Radiat Res (Tokyo); 22(3): 323-335

The radioprotective effect of ginseng extract (GE) in JCL- ICR mice and hematological recovery of irradiated native and splenectomized mice were studied. Six-wk-old male mice were irradiated with 720 or 550 R. Within 3 min after irradiation, mice were injected ip with GE dissolved in 0.2 ml physiological saline. Control mice were injected only with saline after irradiation. Injection of 5.0 mg GE 2.5 hr before or after exposure to 720 R was significantly efficacious, but injection 1 day after treatment was not. Administration of 5.5 mg GE 2 or 1 day prior to irradiation was more efficacious than administration immediately after irradiation. The 30-day survival ratio of mice irradiated with 720 R was 5, 45, 75 and 82.5% for mice injected with 0, 1.8, 3.4, and 6.8 mg GE, respectively. The difference between control and GE groups was significant. Splenic wt of irradiated mice decreased to approx 1/3 normal on days 2-10 in the control group. The decrease wasless in the GE group. Thymic wt decreased after irradiation by approx 30% from day 0 to day 30. Recovery of thymic wt was not stimulated by GE extract. GE- stimulated recovery of splenic DNA, and of thrombocyte and erythrocyte counts was observed; GE did not markedly affect leukocyte counts. GE increased the 30-day survival ratio of splenectomized mice. Only thrombocyte counts after exposure were stimulated by GE in splenectomized mice. Recovery of thrombocyte counts after exposure is assumed to be one of the most important factors in restoration after bone marrow death. (10 Refs)

[Substances stimulating recovery from radiation injury]

Radioisotopes; 27(11): 666-675 1978

Studies on radiation damage, recovery, and on substances that stimulate recovery are reviewed. Separation and testing of active extracts from the root of Panax ginseng, which stimulate recovery from radiation damage in mice are described. Various doses of ginseng extract (GEX) were given (mostly ip) to JCL-ICR mice (6 wk old; 40 mice per group), immediately after irradiation (IR) at various levels. The effects on the 30-day survival rates were studied. At a GEX dose of 6.8 mg and an IR dose of 720 R, the 30-day survival rate was 82.5%. At a GEX dose of 5.0 mg, no significant differences in the 30-day survival rate were found, whether GEX was injected ip or iv. At a GEX dose of 5.8 mg and an IR dose of 550 R, improvement began about the 10th day (WBC, RBC, platelet count). In non- irradiated mice, there was no particular effect of GEX on the blood. In mice splenectomized 1 wk before IR (770 R), 6.0 mg of GEX improved the 30-day survival rate compared with saline treated controls. The WBC and RBC did not recover in splenectomized mice that were irradiated, but the platelet count increased. A marked increase in the spleen wt of non-irradiated mice, associated with the administration of GEX, was eliminated by a final heat treatment of extract liquor and removal of the precipitant. Administration of 5.0 mg GEX was most effective in increasing the 30-day survival rate when given 1-2 days before irradiation. The administration of GEX 24 hr after irradiation resulted in a 30-day survival rate compared with that of controls. (34 Refs)

Memory effects of standardized extracts of Panax ginseng (G115), Ginkgo biloba (GK 501) and their combination Gincosan (PHL-00701).

Planta Med (GERMANY) Apr 1993, 59 (2) p106-14

In experiments on young (aged 3 months) and old (aged 26 months) rats, using some conditioned-reflex methods with punishment or positive reinforcement for active and passive avoidance (shuttle-box, step-down, step-through, and water maze), we studied the effects of the standardized extracts of Panax ginseng (G115), Ginkgo biloba (GK501) and their combination Gincosan (PHL-00701). The extracts were administered orally for 7 days before training at three increasing doses: 17, 50, and 150 mg/kg for G115; 10, 30, and 90 mg/kg for GK501; and 27, 80, and 240 mg/kg for PHL-00701. The two extracts and their combination improved the retention of learned behavior. This effect varied considerably with the extracts, with the dose and with the behavioral method used. The results suggest that the Panax ginseng G115 and the Ginkgo biloba GK501 extracts possess properties similar in every respect to those of nootropic drugs. The favorable effects on learning and memory of the combination of G115 plus GK501 and the other pharmacological activities inherent in the extracts characterize this combination, offered as Gincosan as a particularly promising drug in geriatric practice.


Ginseng- The Mother Of All Herbs


What is Panax Ginseng Extract?

In the last few years public interest in herbs both as foods and medicines has steadily increased. While recently all herbs have been receiving attention there is one that has probably attracted more than any other. Panax ginseng; the most popular Asian herb.

Panax ginseng extract enhances mental and physical performance. It is made from the root of a perennial plant spontaneously growing in China, southern Siberia, Korea and Japan.

The botanical generic name panax hints at the wide range of medicinal uses associated with this herb. Panax is derived from the Greek word for panacea or cure all. The specific name ginseng is derived from the Chinese shing- seng; shing stands for the Chinese word for man and seng is the equivalent of essence. Ginseng or man- essence is so named because the root of this plant resembles the shape of a human body.

What does Panax Ginseng do?

It is believed that ginseng was first used in China more than five thousand years ago. Ginseng was recorded in the Shennong Herbal (compiled between the first and second centuries B. C.) as a superior drug safe for long term use with no toxic effects. Healers in China, Tibet and Korea have been prescribing Ginseng to help with fatigue, headache, diabetes, diseases of the liver and kidneys, normalize blood pressure, improve blood circulation, and prevent heart disease, among other things for centuries.

For thousands of years people have believed that the use of the root of the ginseng plant enhances physical endurance, mental alertness and gives an overall sense of well being. Ginseng has also been used as an aphrodisiac since ancient times, although this claim has never been seriously studied.

For the past two decades ginseng has been thought by many to be a wonder herb. Ginseng is taken by many athletes who believe it improves physical performance and millions of others who use it as a stimulant.

Panax ginseng is believed by many to increase mental and physical endurance, increase concentration, increase energy, help the body adapt to stressful situations, normalize body functions, and reduce cholesterol. In addition, ginseng may help reduce discomfort caused by menopause and inhibit growth of cancerous tumors.

While the jury is still out on whether or not ginseng is truly of benefit in the treatment of cancer there is mounting evidence pointing to the conclusion that it may well be. A study at Japan's Kanazawa University found that panax ginseng not only helped to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells but actually converted the diseased cells into normal cells.

Other studies of panax ginseng support the claim that it helps to enhance mental and physical performance.

In a double blind trial conducted on university students in Italy, ginseng extract was given to students at the dose of 100 mg. twice daily for 12 weeks. Statistically significant results were obtained in mental performance. Students showed improvement in logical deduction and concentration. An interesting footnote to this study is that during the course of treatment with panax ginseng the students reported a sense of well-being.

In double blind studies versus placebo, athletes who supplemented with panax ginseng for nine weeks had a significantly lower heart rate during strenuous exercise than those athletes who were on a placebo. Comparable results have been obtained in tests of recovery time from exercise, involving 60 athletes who took ginseng or placebo over a period of 12 weeks.

In other studies groups of soldiers and athletes have clearly benefited from supplementing with ginseng for several days prior to exercise tests.

Panax ginseng is believed to increase estrogen levels in women therefore it has been reported to be of benefit to women suffering from the menopausal symptoms associated with a drop in estrogen production. A controlled study involving 144 women showed that ginseng completely eliminated menopausal symptoms in 60% of the women who were supplementing with ginseng compared with 19% in the placebo group.

Studies in Japan showed that mice who were fed ginseng learned to perform tasks at a faster rate and made fewer mistakes than those who were not fed ginseng. In the 1970's, Japanese researchers discovered that when rats who were fed a high cholesterol diet were given ginseng their bad cholesterol (LDL) dropped while their good cholesterol rose.

A more recent study (in Delhi, India at the Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences) showed that rats given ginseng had a greater ability to adapt to high altitudes and cold temperatures than those who were not.

In 1969 then Soviet scientist I. I. Brekhman, Ph.D., reported that in a study where one group of Soviet soldiers supplemented with ginseng extract and another group with a placebo, the group given ginseng extract ran faster in a 3 kilometer race.

Dr. Brekhman was the first to call ginseng an adaptogen, which he described as any substance which helps the body to better cope with stress. Dr. Brekhman says an adaptogen is able to help the body normalize functions. For instance, if blood sugar levels drop too low an adaptogen will bring the body back to normal levels.

Dr. Brekhman reached the conclusion that adaptogens like panax ginseng work best on people who are neither in peak condition nor in poor condition. They do the most for those who fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

Who should take it?

Anyone who is affected by the day to day stress of living in the world today. Studies show that panax ginseng will give you energy, help increase your mental and physical endurance, and help your body adapt to stressful situations.

Is Panax Ginseng Extract safe?

Yes. Panax ginseng extract is non-toxic and very safe. No known serious side effects have been reported.

However, as with any supplement, precautions should be taken. Those with high blood pressure should consult a physician before using. Panax ginseng can be very stimulating, therefore, it is not recommended to take it before bedtime.

Vitamin C can interfere with the absorption of ginseng. So, if you take a vitamin C supplement, take it two hours before or two hours after taking panax ginseng extract.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies): Asian ginseng has been a part of Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. The first reference to the use of Asian ginseng dates to the 1st century A.D. Ginseng is commonly used by elderly people in the Orient to improve mental and physical vitality.

Active constituents: Ginseng�s actions in the body are thought to be due to a complex interplay of constituents. The primary group are the ginsenosides, which are believed to counter the effects of stress and enhance intellectual and physical performance. Thirteen ginsenosides have been identified in Asian ginseng. Two of them, ginsenosides Rg1 and Rb1 have been closely studied.1 Other constituents include the panaxans, which may help lower blood sugar, and the polysaccharides (complex sugar molecules), which are thought to support immune function.2 3

Long-term intake of Asian ginseng may be linked to a reduced risk of some forms of cancer.4 5 A double-blind trial found that 200 mg of Asian ginseng per day improved blood sugar levels in people with type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.6 Human trials have mostly failed to confirm the purported benefit of Asian ginseng for the enhancement of athletic performance.7 8 One preliminary trial suggests it may help those in poor physical condition to tolerate exercise better.9 In combination with some vitamins and minerals, 80 mg of ginseng per day was found to effectively reduce fatigue in a double-blind trial.10 Another double-blind trial also found it helpful for relief of fatigue and, possibly, stress.11 Although there are no human clinical trials, adaptogenic herbs such as Asian ginseng may be useful for people with chronic fatigue syndrome. This may be because these herbs are thought to have an immuno-modulating effect and also help support the normal function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the hormonal stress system of the body.12

Asian ginseng may also prove useful for male infertility. A double-blind trial with a large group of infertile men found that 4 grams of Asian ginseng per day for three months led to an improvement in sperm count and sperm motility.13

Asian ginseng may also help men with erectile dysfunction. A double-blind trial in Korea found that 1,800 mg per day of Asian ginseng extract for three months helped improve libido and the ability to maintain an erection in men with erectile dysfunction.14

How much is usually taken? The most researched form of ginseng, standardized herbal extracts, supply approximately 5�7% ginsenosides.15 Ginseng root extracts are sometimes recommended at 200�500 mg per day. Non-standardized extracts require a higher intake, generally 1�4 grams per day for tablets or 2�3 ml for dried root tincture three times per day. Ginseng is traditionally used for two to three weeks continuously, followed by a one- to two-week �rest� period before resuming.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Used in the recommended amounts, ginseng is generally safe. In rare instances, it may cause over-stimulation and possibly insomnia.16 Consuming caffeine with ginseng increases the risk of over-stimulation and gastrointestinal upset. People with uncontrolled high blood pressure should use ginseng cautiously. Long-term use of ginseng may cause menstrual abnormalities and breast tenderness in some women. Ginseng is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Are there any drug interactions? Certain medications may interact with Asian ginseng. Refer to the drug interactions safety check for a list of those medications.

References:

1. Shibata S, Tanaka O, Shoji J, Saito H. Chemistry and pharmacology of Panax. In Economic and Medicinal Plant Research, vol 1, Wagner H, Hikino H, Farnsworth NR (eds). London: Academic Press, 1985, 217�84.

2. Tomoda M, Hirabayashi K, Shimizu N, et al. Characterization of two novel polysaccharides having immunological activities from the root of Panax ginseng. Biol Pharm Bull 1993;16:1087�90.

3. See DM, Broumand N, Sahi L, et al. In vitro effects of echinacea and ginseng on natural killer and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity in healthy subjects and chronic fatigue syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome patients. Immunopharmacol 1997;35:229�35.

4. Yun TK, Choi Y. Non-organ specific cancer prevention of ginseng: A prospective study in Korea. Int J Epidemiol 1998;27:359�64.

5. Shin HR, Kim JY, Yun TK, et al. The cancer-preventive potential of Panax ginseng: a review of human and experimental evidence. Cancer Causes Control 2000;11:565�76 [review].

6. Sotaniemi EA, Haapakoski E, Rautio A. Ginseng therapy in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 1995;18:1373�5.

7. Teves MA, Wright JE, Welch MJ, et al. Effects of ginseng on repeated bouts of exhaustive exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1983;15:162.

8. Allen JD, McLung J, Nelson AG, Welsch M. Ginseng supplementation does not enhance healthy young adults� peak aerobic exercise performance. J Am Coll Nutr 1998;17:462�6.

9. Pieralisi G, Ripari P, Vecchiet L. Effects of a standardized ginseng extract combined with dimethylaminoethanol bitartrate, vitamins, minerals and trace elements on physical performance during exercise. Clin Ther 1991;13:373�82.

10. Le Gal M, Cathebras P, Struby K. Pharmaton capsules in the treatment of functional fatigue: A double-blind study versus placebo evaluated by a new methodology. Phytother Res 1996;10:49�53.

11. Caso Mardsco A, Vargas Ruiz R, Salas Villagomez A, Begona Infante C. Double-blind study of a multivitamin complex supplemented with ginseng extract. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1996;22:323�9.

12. Brown D. Licorice root - potential early intervention for chronic fatigue syndrome. Quart Rev Natural Med 1996;Summer:95�7.

13. Salvati G, Genovesi G, Marcellini L, et al. Effects of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer saponins on male fertility. Panmineva Med 1996;38:249�54.

14. Choi HK, Seong DH, Rha KH. Clinical efficacy of Korean red ginseng for erectile dysfunction. Int J Impotence Res 1995;7:181�6.

15. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 129�38.

16. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 145�50.

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