American Ginseng Ori

Plant Part Used

Root.

Active Constituents

ginsenosides (mostly Rb1); (1) , (2) sapogenins (panaxadiol or panaxatriol); (3) polysaccharide gycans (quinquifolan A, B and C); (4) homodimeric protein (quinqueginsin) (5) [span class=alert]

This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]

Introduction

American ginseng has been traditionally used by the American Indians as a general tonic, as a natural restorative for the weak and wounded, and to help the mind. American Ginseng is now used as a natural preventative and restorative remedy, and is valued for its adaptogenic properties, especially in China and other Asian countries. (6) An "adaptogen," is a substance that increases nonspecific resistance of the body to a wide range of chemical, physical, psychological, and biological factors (stressors). Adaptogens have the unique ability to switch from stimulating to sedating effects based on the body's needs. There are several types of ginsengs, with the two most commonly used being Asian or Panax ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquifolius). Another adaptogenic plant, Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), is also usually grouped with these two plants, but is not botanically related. One early study reported no adaptogenic behavior in laboratory animals when given American, Asian, and Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus) ginsengs. (7)

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

200mg (standardized), 1-3 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

200mg (standardized), 2 times a day.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 5% ginsenosides (mainly Rb1) per dose.

Uses

Frequently Reported Uses

  • Adaptogen, Tonic
  • Anti-Aging
  • Memory Enhancement
Other Reported Uses
  • Impotence
  • Diabetes
  • Antioxidant
  • Breast Cancer
  • HIV
  • Immune Enhancement
  • Menopausal Symptoms

 

Toxicities & Precautions

General

American ginseng root is reported safe in recommended dosages. (8)

Side Effects

The ginsengs may cause breast tenderness or menopausal bleeding in some women. (9) , (10)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Use is contraindicated in pregnancy and lactation. (11)

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age, unless recommended by a physician.

Pharmacology

The main bio-active ingredients of ginseng root (American and Korean/Asian) are the more than 20 saponin triterpenoid glycosides called "ginsenosides" (including Rg1 and Rb1 among others). The Rb1 groups, predominant in the diol series, are reported to have an ability to improve stamina and learning capacity, as well as having sedative and hypoglycemic properties. American ginseng (Panax quinquifolius) contains more of the Rb1 diols than Asian/Korean ginseng, and may be more suitable for individuals who are coffee drinkers, overweight, or with insomnia. (12) The Rg1 groups, predominant in the triol series, reportedly raise blood pressure slightly in some instances and are mild central nervous system stimulants. Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) contains more Rg1 triols and may be more suitable for individuals who are non-hypertensive, athletes, fatigued or with high stress jobs. In the Traditional Chinese Medical sense, American Ginseng is more sedative and relaxing, and increases "yin" energy, in contrast to Korean/Asian Ginseng which is more stimulating and increases the "yang" energy.

Blood Sugar Regulation

In laboratory studies, ginsenosides (Rb1) stimulated glucose uptake in sheep erythrocytes dose-dependently. (13) Several laboratory animal studies have reported blood sugar lowering activity in both American and Asian/Korean (Panax) ginseng. (14) , (15) , (16) Studies suggest that this effect may be due to enhanced insulin secretion. (17) In a human study, a glucose challenge test was conducted with ten non-diabetic and nine Type II diabetic subjects (regular medications and diet adherence along with the ginseng). (18) The subjects were randomized to take either placebo or 3gm American ginseng root either 40 minutes before or together with a 25gm oral glucose challenge. In nondiabetic subjects, no differences were found in prostprandial glycemia between placebo and ginseng when administered together with the glucose challenge. When the ginseng was taken 40 minutes before the glucose challenge, significant reductions were observed. In individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus, the same was true whether capsules were taken before or together with the glucose challenge. The results were that American ginseng attenuated postprandial glycemia in both study groups.

Another study by the same researchers studied the effects of further reductions in blood sugar with the increasing dosages of American ginseng root or alterations in dosage time. (19) The conclusions were that American ginseng root reduced postprandial glucose irrespective of dose and time of administration. No more than 3g American ginseng was required at any time in relation to the challenge to achieve reductions. A conclusion by the authors was that due to the reductions of glycemia at the 2-h diagnostic end point, there may be implications for diabetes diagnosis and treatment. It should be noted that this dose is the whole root and typical standardized daily dosages do not exceed 600mg.

Another study done in non-diabetics refined these findings. It indicated that postprandial glycemia was reduced the greatest when American ginseng was administered 40 minutes prior to a glucose challenge compared to administration 20, 10 or zero minutes before the challenge. There were no differences noted between the doses given, 1g, 2g or 3g. (20)

Anti-aging Effects

American ginseng has also been reported to have anti-aging effects in laboratory animals and human subjects. (21) One laboratory animal study reported an increase in learning capability. (22) One study (based on Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnostic procedures) of 71 individuals over age 60 reported that ginsenoside Rb1 extracted from American ginseng exerted a beneficial effect on memory and learning, possibly through its actions on the cholinergic system. (23) In vitro studies show that Rb1 has no effect on receptor binding or on acetylcholinesterase activity, but facilitates the release of acetylcholine (ACh) from the hippocampus. (24) The increase in ACh release is associated with an increased uptake of choline into nerve endings, reportedly with calcium influx unaltered in this study. Another laboratory study reported that calcium levels decreased in ginsenoside treated animals. (25) This acetylcholine facilitation could make American ginseng beneficial in Alzheimer’s therapy. The ginsenosides Rb1 and Rg1 have been reported to be neuroprotective, and specifically Rb1 (again found in higher concentrations in American ginseng) have been reported to protect the brain from ischemic and reperfusion injuries in animal studies. (26) , (27) Among the neuroprotective qualities of the ginsenosides, including Rb1, are inhibition of dopaminergic activation induced by cocaine at the presynaptic DA receptors in laboratory mice. (28)

It is thought that ginsenosides act at hormone receptor sites, especially in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, stimulating secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). (29) ACTH stimulates the production of adrenal hormones and other factors, leading to balance and regulation of the hypothalamic/adrenal axis that may have been influenced by stress. The proliferation of splenic lymphocytes, the humoral immune response to sheep red blood cells, and the phagocytotic function of intraperitoneal macrophages were all suppressed by cold water (4 degrees C) swim stress for 5 min. in rats and for 3 min. in mice. The levels of serum corticosterone increased. Ginseng root saponins (100mg/kg) or ginsenoside Rb1 completely antagonized the immunosuppression induced by the swim test, and inhibited the increase of serum corticosterone in these animals, but increased the level of serum corticosterone further in the swim test mice. (30) Rb1 was also reported to enhance thermogenic capacity and that both young and old rats when treated for cold tolerance. (31)

Breast Cancer

The literature has reported that American ginseng may be used in breast cancer therapies. (32) The results of this study suggested that ginseng may exhibit estrogen-like effects on estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells, with the effect of ginseng possible being mediated in part via the estrogen receptor. A study evaluating the estrogenic effects of various plants, an estrogen-inducible gene in breast cancer cells (S30) was expressed when exposed to American ginseng. No other estrogenic activity was noted in this laboratory study. (33) In another laboratory study, no activity on estrogen receptors was noted, however ginseng stimulated cell growth of a specific type of breast cancer. (34) A second laboratory study evaluating the same type of breast cancer cells had opposite results. Compared to estradiol, American ginseng did not increase cell growth. In fact, when tested with certain drugs designed to fight breast cancer, cell growth was actually decreased. (35) Because ginseng apparently does not exhibit a proliferative effect, it may play a protective role against breast cancer rather than serve as a mitogen. American ginseng should be avoided in women with estrogen fed cancers until further information is gathered regarding its estrogenic activity.

Other Uses

A preliminary study evaluating the use of a combination product containing American ginseng extract (200 mg) and Ginkgo biloba extract (50 mg) for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) had promising results. Thirty-six children diagnosed with ADHD, ages 3 to 17, were given the combination herbal product and evaluated over 4 weeks. Based on a statistical standard set in the study, 44% demonstrated improvement with social problems and 74% demonstrated improvement for the Conners' ADHD index and the DSM-IV hyperactive-impulsive attribute. (36)

Ginseng, especially American ginseng, is claimed to exhibit some estrogen-like activity and may improve vaginal lubrication in menopausal women. (37) There have been reports of ginseng products also increasing vaginal bleeding. (38) , (39) Contrarily, a study involving 384 postmenopausal women compared the use of ginseng to placebo for relief of related symptoms. Benefits were seen for depression and general well-being and health. However, no advantage was seen for hot flashes and physical changes that occur to the vagina and surrounding area. This study seems to indicate that the beneficial effects seen may not be related to hormonal-like effects anticipated. (40)

A study in laboratory rats has reported that American ginseng significantly facilitated male copulatory behavior. (41) The reduction in plasma prolactin levels suggests that ginseng may induce alterations in dopaminergic neurotransmission which may play a role in the ability of American ginseng to stimulate the rat copulatory behavior. Other possible effects include and increase in nitric-oxide mediated relaxation of the corpus cavernosum, seen in another laboratory animal study. (42)

A study done in mice demonstrated some possible analgesic effects of American ginseng. Compared to placebo, pain markers in the rodent chronic pain model were significantly decreased in the American ginseng extract group. (43)

A study identifying a nueroprotective effect of American ginseng during times of ischemia is likely due to the inhibition of the sodium channel activity. (44)

Another animal study has demonstrated that American ginseng interacted with ligand-bindings of GABA(A) receptors and modulated brainstem GABAergic mechanisms. (45) The authors concluded that regulation of GABAergic neurotransmission may be an important action of American ginseng and probably has to do with the sedative qualities of American ginseng.

Use of American ginseng also reduced LDL oxidation in laboratory animals, making it a potential supportive agent in the fight against atherosclerosis. (46) , (47) Another study has reported that American ginseng has antioxidant properties. (48) Of interest is that the antioxidant properties of American ginseng saponins may be further enhanced with the use of vitamin C. (49) Another laboratory study reported that the free radical damage to the cultured myocardiocytes of rat was decreased when incubated with the ginsenoside Rb1, predominant in American ginseng root. (50)

A homodimeric protein named quinqueginsin has been isolated from the roots of American ginseng. In in vitro studies, the protein displayed a variety of biological activities, including antifungal activity and activity toward the human immunodeficiency virus-1 reverse transcriptase, making it of potential value in the war against AIDS. (51)

References

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  2. View Abstract: Wang X, Sakuma T, Asafu-Adjave E, et al. Determination of Ginsenosides in Plant Extracts from Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius L. by LC/MS/MS. Anal Chem. Apr1999;71(8):1579-84.
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  5. View Abstract: Wang HX, Ng TB. Quinqueginsin, A Novel Protein with Anti-human Immunodeficiency Virus, Antifungal, Ribonuclease and Cell-free Translation-inhibitory Activities from American Ginseng Roots. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. Mar2000;269(1):203-8.
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  18. View Abstract: Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Koo VY, et al. American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L) Reduces Postprandial Glycemia in Nondiabetic Subjects and Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Arch Intern Med. Apr2000;160(7):1009-13.
  19. View Abstract: Vuksan V, Stavro MP, Sievenpiper JL, et al. Similar Postprandial Glycemic Reductions with Escalation of Dose and Administration Time of American Ginseng in Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. Sep2000;23(9):1221-6.
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  29. View Abstract: Hiai S, et al. Stimulation of Pituitary-Adrenocortical System by Ginseng Saponin. Endocrinol Jpn. 1979;26(6):661-65.
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  31. View Abstract: Wang LC, Lee TF. Effect of Ginseng Saponins on Cold Tolerance in Young and Elderly Rats. Planta Med. Mar2000;66(2):144-7.
  32. View Abstract: Duda RB, Taback B, Kessel B, et al. PS2 Expression Induced by American Ginseng in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells. Ann Surg Oncol. Nov1996;3(6):515-20.
  33. View Abstract: Liu J, Burdette JE, Xu H, Gu C, van Breemen RB, Bhat KP, et al. Evaluation of estrogenic activity of plant extracts for the potential treatment of menopausal symptoms. J Agric Food Chem. May2001;49(5):2472-9.
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  41. View Abstract: Murphy LL, Cadena RS, Chavez D, et al. Effect of American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) on Male Copulatory Behavior in the Rat. Physiol Behav. Jun1998;64(4):445-50.
  42. View Abstract: Chen X, Lee TJ. Ginsenosides-induced Nitric Oxide-mediated Relaxation of the Rabbit Corpus Cavernosum. Br J Pharmacol. May1995;115(1):15-8.
  43. View Abstract: Yang JC, Pang CS, Tsang SF, Ng KF. Effect of American ginseng extract (Panax quinquefolius) on formalin-induced nociception in mice. Am J Chin Med. 2001;29(1):149-54.
  44. View Abstract: Liu D, Li B, Liu Y, Attele AS, Kyle JW, Yuan CS. Voltage-dependent inhibition of brain Na(+) channels by American ginseng. Eur J Pharmacol. Feb2001;413(1):47-54.
  45. View Abstract: Yuan CS, Attele AS, Wu JA, et al. Modulation of American Ginseng on Brainstem GABAergic Effects in Rats. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct1998;62(3):215-22.
  46. View Abstract: Huang YS. Effect of Ginsenosides Rb1 and Rg1 on Lipid Peroxidation of Rat In Vitro. Chung Kuo I Hsueh Ko Hsueh Yuan Hsueh Pao. Dec1989;11(6):460-2.
  47. View Abstract: Li J, Huang M, Teoh H, et al. Panax quinquefolium Saponins Protects Low Density Lipoproteins from Oxidation. Life Sci. 1999;64(1):53-62.
  48. View Abstract: Kitts DD, Wijewickreme AN, Hu C. Antioxidant Properties of a North American Ginseng Extract. Mol Cell Biochem. Jan2000;203(1-2):1-10.
  49. View Abstract: Li JP, Huang M, Teoh H, et al. Interactions Between Panax quinquefolium Saponins and Vitamin C are Observed In Vitro. Mol Cell Biochem. Jan2000;204(1-2):77-82.
  50. View Abstract: Jiang Y, Zhong GG, Chen L, et al. Influences of Ginsenosides Rb1, Rb2, and Rb3 on Electric and Contractile Activities of Normal and Damaged Cultured Myocardiocytes. Chung Kuo Yao Li Hsueh Pao. Sep1992;13(5):403-6.
  51. View Abstract: Wang HX, Ng TB. Quinqueginsin, A Novel Protein with Anti-human Immunodeficiency Virus, Antifungal, Ribonuclease and Cell-free Translation-inhibitory Activities from American Ginseng Roots. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. Mar2000;269(1):203-8.