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Ginseng: A Natural Anti-Inflammatory

Ginseng: Nature's Anti-Inflammatory?

Laboratory experiments have demonstrated the immunological effects of ginseng. Researchers have now shown that the herb, much used in traditional Chinese and other Asian medicine, has anti-inflammatory effects.

Allan Lau led a team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong who identified seven ginseng constituents, ginsenosides, which showed immune-suppressive effects. He said, "The anti-inflammatory role of ginseng may be due to the combined effects of these ginsenosides, targeting different levels of immunological activity, and so contributing to the diverse actions of ginseng in humans".

The scientists treated human immune cells with different extracts of ginseng. They found that of the nine ginsenosides they identified, seven could selectively inhibit expression of the inflammatory gene CXCL-10. Lau concludes, "Further studies will be needed to examine the potential beneficial effects of ginsenosides in the management of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases in humans".

Uniquely, the researchers were able to holistically test the ginseng extract's immune effects by using sophisticated purification technologies to identify individual constituents and define their bioactivity using genomics and bioactivity assays. After that, they reconstituted them back into a whole extract with definable individual ginsenosides for re-confirmation of effects. This potentially opens up a vigorous methodology to study medicinal herbs with state-of-the-art technologies.

Journal reference:

Davy CW Lee, Cindy LH Yang, Stanley CC Chik, James CB Li, Jian-hui Rong, Godfrey CF Chan and Allan SY Lau. Bioactivity-guided identification and cell signaling technology to delineate the immunomodulatory effects of Panax ginseng on human promonocytic U937 cells. Journal of Translational medicine, (in press)

Source: Science Daily

Ginseng is derived from the root of the ginseng plant. Many studies have shown that the main benefit of ginseng is its ability to help the body fight off illness and to encourage the production of immune cells designed to neutralize potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.

Ginseng is also widely used to help alleviate stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that it actively helps support the glands involved in the production of stress hormones within the body. It contains a number of compounds which seem to be unique to this plant. Many of these unique elements seem to have a strong effect on the adrenal glands, which rest on the top of the kidneys. The function of the adrenal glands is to secrete hormones which are used to ward off both physical and emotional stress. Scientists believe that it is this effect on the adrenal glands that is responsible for the stress fighting power of ginseng.

In addition to its traditional role as stress fighter, ginseng has shown great promise at reducing fatigue, increasing memory and fighting off colds, flu and other infections.

Ginseng is most commonly sold in supplement form, and is one of the most widely available of all herbal supplements. Fresh or dried ginseng root is also available in some health food stores, which can be used to make a potent, home-brewed tea. Remember that all herbs and supplements can interfere with other medications and cause possible side-effects, so take all herbs and supplements with caution.