Therapeutics and Pharmacology of Panax Ginseng.


Therapeutics and Pharmacology of Panax Ginseng.

Panax Ginseng Radix Ginseng Asian Ginseng Pharmacologically, ginseng is nonspecific in its effects and is capable of a normalizing action irrespective of the pathological situation. Ginseng's effects include improved mental performance, learning, and memory and sensory awareness. The basis of ginseng's action is believed to be due to certain chemical agents in it that increase the brain's adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) activity without involving the adrenal glands. A generalized mental arousal is thereby effected.

 The biologically active constituents in P. ginseng are a complex mixture of triterpene saponins known as ginsenosides (Lewis, 1986; Ng and Yeung, 1986; Liu and Xiao, 1992). The root contains 2~3% ginsenosides of which Rg1, Rc, Rd, Rb1, Rb2, and Rb0 are quantitatively the most important.

 At least 30 ginsenosides have been isolated and characterized (Ng and Yeung, 1986). The pharmacological actions of individual ginsenosides may work in opposition. For example, the two main ginsenosides, Rb1 and Rg1, respectively suppress and stimulate the central nervous system (Chong and Oberholzer, 1988). These opposing actions may contribute to the "adaptogenic" description of ginseng and its purported ability to balance bodily functions. Ginseng's pharmacological activities may be multiple and complex, due not only to ginsenosides but to a variety of compounds such as panacene (a peptidoglycan), which has exhibited hypoglycemic activity (Konno et al., 1984), a peptide with insulinomimetic properties (Ando et al., 1980), and salicylate and vanillic acid, which showed antioxidant and antifatigue effects in animals (Han et al., 1983).

 The Commission E reported that in various stress models such as immobilization test and coldness test, the resistance of rodents was enhanced. Ginseng is reported to possess hormone-like and cholesterol-lowering effects, promote vasodilatation, and act as an anxiolytic and antidepressant (Choi et al., 1995; Chong and Oberholzer, 1988). Many studies on animals have found ginseng extracts and ginsenosides to be effective in stimulating learning, memory, and physical capabilities (Petkov and Mosharrof, 1987), supporting radioprotection (Takeda et al., 1981; Takeda et al., 1982), providing resistance to infection (Singh et al, 1984), demonstrating antioxidant and antifatigue effects (Han et al., 1983; Saito et al., 1974), enhancing energy metabolism (Avakian et al., 1984), and reducing plasma total cholesterol and triglycerides while elevating HDL levels (Yamamoto et al., 1983). A recent study at Yale University has suggested that ginseng's vasodilatory action may be due to nitric oxide synthesis (Gillis, 1997).

 Recent reports on the pharmacology of ginseng indicate a wide range of effects, including influence on the central nervous system, endocrine and adrenocortical systems, internal, organs, metabolism, blood pressure and sugar, gonadotropic activity, cellular ageing, tumours, and stress. Ginseng appears to relieve stress, increase sexual activity, and facilitate mating in laboratory animals. The herb has been reported to be effective in prolonging survival time during cardiac arrest. It is reported to show hypoglycemic activity. Asian Ginseng has also been identified to protect the testis against 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-di-benzo-di-p-DIOXIN inducing testicular damage. This particular dioxin is the most dangerous of perhaps the most toxic chemical group known to science. Dioxins are known to cause cancer in humans.

 Other data shows it works not only in preventing adult diseases including cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and impotence but can also aid in treatment.

 German Commission E monograph and WHO support the use of ginseng as a prophylactic and restorative agent for enhancement of mental and physical capacities, in cases of weakness, exhaustion, tiredness, and loss of concentration, and during convalescence (WHO, 1999). In general, ginseng is used as a tonic, stimulant, aphrodisiac, immune booster, blood pressure modulator (lowers and raises, depending on needs), and a modulator of blood sugar level (lowers or raise, depending on needs).

 Effects on the central nervous system:

 Depending on which active component of Ginseng is exerting the predominant pharmacological action, Ginseng can have an excitatory or an inhibitory effect on the central nervous system.

 The herbal classics CCHM noted the herb Ginseng show stimulant on the central nervous system,but at big dosage reaction inhibited.Can enhance Animal higher nervous activity excitement and inhibition processes.And can enhance the body's ability to adapt to all non-specific stimulation and reduce fatigue(the herb ginseng root,stem,leaf all could prolong the duration of the mice swimming ability).(2)

 Antioxidation Effect:

 Ginseng enhances the body's immunity and adaptability, and counteracts lipid peroxidation.

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some antioxidant effects of Ginseng protect against oxidative DNA and protein from free radicals etc,"Antioxidant Effects:The antioxidant effects of Ginseng protect against oxidative DNA and protein(globin) damage caused by free radicals(Lee,1998).antioxidant activity of the herb also provides a hepatoprotective effect by increasing hepatic gluathione peroxidase activity(Voces,1999).Antioxidant intervention by Ginseng is exerted by weak radical scavenging activity and stimulation of endothelial nitric oxidesynthase in cardiac tissue(Maffei,1999)."(3)

 Anti-aging effect:

 Ginseng inhibits plasma cyclic nucleoside-phosphate.The water decoction of Ginseng can significantly enhance the activity of liver cell DNA methylase in mice of physiological renal deficiency.

 Adaptogenic Effects and Resistance Effects:

 The herbal classics CCHM noted the herb Ginseng could strengthening the body's resistance to harmful factors,and listed several results from animal tests:(1).make the chickens infected with the malaria parasite from acute mortality, and also gradually increase the weight of the chicken.(2).the reaction heat can be suppressed due to the injection of milk or animals caused by vaccines.(3).can enhance the body's ability to adapt to temperature changes.(4).dogs when massive blood loss or suffocation while in dying state, immediate injection of ginseng preparations, down to very low levels of blood pressure can make a solid rebound. (5).that can prolong the survival time of mice infected with T. cruzi.(6).can inhibit the injection of turpentine or systemic inflammatory response due to the rabbit ears frostbite caused.(7).to promote healing some experiments injury.(8).The anti-vitamin B1, B2 deficiency role.(9).can accelerate the healing of rabbits corneal ulcers.(10).can weaken some poison (benzene, tetraethyl lead, tricresyl phosphate, etc.) effects on the body.(2)

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some adaptogenic effects of the herb Ginseng:"Ginseng was only slightly more effective than placebo and mostly not as effective as a good night's sleep in improving bodily feelings,mood,and fatigue in 12 fatigued night nurses(Hallstrom et al,1982).Ginseng administration may have a normalizing effect on the body by increasing its natural resistance to physical,chemical,or biological stress without impairing physiological function.Histamine-like fractions and hormonal content,isolated from the Ginseng root,account for the estrogenic effect(Siegel,1979)."(3)

 Effects on Alzheimer's disease:

 Administered to patients of Alzheimer's disease, Ginseng can regulate their central cholinergy level and the change in the monoamine nerve transmitter.

 Anti-neoplastic effect:

 Ginseng significantly inhibits S180 and H22 sarcomas with an average inhibition rate of 24.88% and 41.10%, respectively.

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some in vitro effects of ginsenoside Rg3,ginsenoside Rs4 and Rs3,Ginsenoside Rh2 with apoptotic cells,proliferating cell nuclear antigen,human prostate carcinoma LNCaP cell line,5 alpha reductase,androgen receptor,proliferation of pulmonary adenocarcinoma cells resistant to cisplatin,protein levels associated with apoptosis in human hepatoma cells,apoptotic cell death in glioma cell line etc,in various tests.(3)

 Antiplatelet Effects:

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some antiplatelet effects of the Ginseng components,"The antiplatelet components consist of panaxynol and ginsenosides Ro,Rg1,and Rg2 in the diethyl ether and 1-butanol fractions of the herb.Panaxynol inhibits the aggregation,release reaction,and thromboxane formation in platelets while ginsenosides Ro,Rg1,and Rg2 suppress the release reaction only(Kuo,1990;Teng,1989).Compared with aspirin,ginsenoside Rg2 at concentrations of 0.5 mmol and 1 mmol produced strong inhibition of platelet aggregation induced by arachidonic acid,collagen,and endotoxin.The ginsenoside R0 inhibited thrombin-induced fibrinogen conversion to fibrin at 0.1 to 1 mmol(p less than 0.01)(Matsuda et al,1986)."(3)

 Animal Gonadal function:

 The herbal classics CCHM noted the herb ginseng show Animal Gonadal function:promote animal gonadal function, mice eating a small amount of ginseng, which can produce lift tail phenomenon.(2)

 Hypolipidemic/Cardiac Effects:

 The herbal classics CCHM noted the herb ginseng show cardiac and vascular effect:the direct effects usually in a small dose of excitement,inhibit large doses. 10% ginseng infusions 1 ml/kg cat(or rabbit) orally,cardiac muscle weakness have some improvement.There is a considerable degree of recovery during rewarming.Anti-anaphylactic shock and also the role of strong heart. Ginseng rat myocardial cell membrane ATP activity was inhibited.(2)

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some Hypolipidemic/Cardiac Effects of the Ginseng components,"A 2006 review identified 34 studies and mixed results for Ginseng's effect on lipids,with overall inconsistency in findings despite 5 of 9 trials showing improvement over baseline in one or more lipid parameters.Studies were also inconsistent overall in showing Ginseng's ability to lower blood glucose.Heterogeneity and small study size have hampered meta-analyses.The authors conclude that well-designed,controlled,and randomized trials are needed to confirm the cardioprotective actions of Ginseng(Buettner,2006).Ginseng saponins activate lipoprotein lipase,an enzyme that reduces chylomicrons and very low-density lipoproteins(VLDL),and results in a decrease of triglycerides and cholesterol(Inoue,1999).The ginsenosides demonstrate negative chronotropic effects and positive and negative inotropic effects on the heart.The mechanism is thought to be similar to verapamil(Wu&Chen,1988).The anti-arrhythmic properties of Rg1 consist of prolonged ventricular refractoriness and repolarization,and increased ventricular fibrillation threshold(Wu,1995)."(3)

 Hemolytic Effects:

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some Hemolytic Effects of the Ginseng components,"Hemolytic Effects:Ginseng as a whole has shown hemostatic action(Kosuge et al,1981).The saponin part of Ginseng has no specific action on blood,but individual ginsenosides do.The number of sugars in the ginsenosides,and their sterochemical positions,seems to affect the specific activity(Namba et al,1974).A study done in vitro and in vivo showed that a methanol extract of P japonicus promoted the activation of the fibrinolytic system(Matsuda et al,1989).(3)

 Hepatic Effects:

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some Hepatic Effects of the Ginseng components,"Hepatic Effects:Monitoring of elderly patients with drug or alcohol-induced chronic hepatotoxicity receiving a Ginseng extract showed an increased bromosulphthalein excretion and improved serum-zinc concentrations,suggesting liver detoxification(Zuin et al,1987).The preparation also included multivitamins and trace elements.Hepatoprotective effects have been observed for various ginsenosides.Hepatotoxicity was reduced oin cultured rat hepatocytes by administration of ginsenosides.Higher doses of various ginsenosides in both series actually produced cytotoxic actions.In another study,Ginseng was administered orally to hapatotoxic rats.The Ginseng appeared to inhibit the increase of serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase levels,and to prevent the connective tissue increases in the liver."(3)

 Hypoglycemic Effects:

 The herbal classics CCHM noted the herb ginseng show hyperglycemic effect:hyperglycemic animal adrenaline-induced blood glucose lowering effect; in addition to consciously improve symptoms, there is a slight hypoglycemic effect for diabetic patients with insulin have a synergistic effect.(2)

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some Hypoglycemic Effects of the Ginseng components,"Hypoglycemic Effects:The Hypoglycemic activity of Ginseng has been attributed to both the polysaccharide and the saponin(ginsenoside) fractions.Isolated rat pancreatic islets studies demonstrated in vitro that ginsenosides stimulated insulin release.This release was independent of extracellular calcium.It appeared that the mechanism involved was different from that of glucose.Other in vivo rat studies,utilizing an extract of Ginseng,found the number of insulin receptors to be increased in bone marrow and reduced numbers of glucocorticoid receptors in rat brain homogenate.Both of these effects are thought to contribute to the hypoglycemic activity of Ginseng.Ginsenosides R(b1) and R(g1) are reported to decrease islet insulin concentrations to an undetectable level.Uncharacterized components and glycans(polysaccharides often called panaxans)contributed to the hypoglycemic activity in both normal and alloxan-induced hyperglycemic mice administered Ginseng intraperitoneally.Various researchers have found that ginsenosides increased lipogenesis and decreased the blood glucose levels in rats.koraen red ginseng powder has been found to contain adenosine and pyro-glutamic acid in vitro.It is suggested that these substances inhibited epinephrine-induced lipolysis and stimulated insulin-mediated lipogenesis from glucose in fat cells."(3)

 Increase Body Weight:

 The herbal classics CCHM noted the herb ginseng show increase body weight effects:In appropriate doses, can also increase the weight of the rabbit, so the ratio of albumin and globulin increased.(2)

 Infertility Effects:

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some Infertility Effects of the Ginseng components,"Infertility Effects:The saponin fraction of Panax ginseng enhanced sperm motility and progression at the 1-hour and 2-hour mark.Statistically significant results were obtained at both time intervals for sperm motility and at the 1-hour mark for sperm progression(p at least 0.05).Further study to evaluate the clinical significance of these results was suggested by the investigators.(Chen et al,1998)(3)

 Promoting Intelligence and Cognitive function:

 Research on central nervous transmitter, protein and cerebral nucleic acid synthesis, and the second messenger system shows that Ginseng promotes intelligence.

 The PDR 4th herbalists noted some cognitive functions protection from Ginseng,based on the core theory the loss of nicotinic receptor binding and age-related cognitive problems,"Cognitive Function Effects:The loss of nicotinic receptor binding has been associated with age-related cognitive impairments.Nicotinic receptor stimulation of the central nervous system is beneficial for neuroprotection against age-associated cognitive disorders.A non-ginsenoside component of the herb has demonstrated affinity for the nicotinic receptor.This binding of the compound to the receptor results in nicotinic activity(Lewis,1999).Ginsenoside-Rg2 and -Rg3 block nicotinic acetylcholine and gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors.This result in an inhibitory effect of the acetylcholine-evoked secretion of catecholamines.(Tachikawa,1999).These different effects of Panax ginseng contribute to the variety of pharmacological effects."(3)

 Regulating endocrine:

 As rats age, their plasma T3, T4 cortisol levels decrease; Ginseng is observed to be able to reverse this trend.

 Lowering blood sugar:

 Administered at the dosage of 30g/kg, Ginseng can significantly lower the blood sugar level in mice of alloxan-induced diabetes. The same effect is not observed in healthy mice.

 Effects on endotoxins:

 Although Ginseng extract is not known to be capable of destroying directly the structure of endotoxins, it does counteract induced heat, decrease in white blood cell count, and shock.

 Effects on myocardial ischemia:

 Ginseng can lower the cAMP level ischemic cardiac muscles.

 Effects on protein glycosylation:

 Ginseng inhibits both human serum albumin and rat crystalline.


 Panax Ginseng Radix Ginseng Asian Ginseng Sweet and slightly bitter in flavor, slightly warm in nature, and related to the heart, spleen and lung channels.


 Invigorates qi, treats collapes, reinforces the spleen, nourishes the lung, promotes yin (the production of the body fluid), quenches thirst, tranquilizes the mind and improves intelligence.

 Ginseng can strongly invigorate the primordial qi, quickly restore collapse and slowly tonify the deficiency. It is the first important herb to treat collapse due to extreme deficiency of priordial qi and internal injury caused by overstrain.

 Ginseng has a history of herbal use going back over 5,000 years. It is one of the most highly regarded of herbal medicines in the Orient, where it has gained an almost magical reputation for being able to promote health, general body vigour and also to prolong life.


 1: What is the differenciation between Panax ginseng and Ginsengs,How to use Panax Ginseng,Chemistry and Pharmacology,Substitutes?
 2: see CCHM(Quan Guo Zhong Cao Yao Hui Bian,or Compilation of Chinese Herbal Medicine)
 3: see PDR for Herbal Medicines 4th Ed.under title "Ginseng(Panax Ginseng)",p384~392.

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  • Name:Panax Ginseng Extract
  • Serie No:R079.
  • Specifications:Ginsenosides 20%50%HPLC.10:1TLC
  • EINECS/ELINCS No.:283-493-7
  • CAS:84650-12-4
  • Chem/IUPAC Name:Panax Ginseng Extract is an extract of the roots of the ginseng,Panax ginseng,Araliaceae
  • Other Names:Ginseng Stem Leaf Extract.Panax ginseng C.A.Mey. Extract.Chinese Ginseng Extract.Panax ginseng Meyer Extract.Ren Cen.

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