Ginseng, the 'Immunity Boost': The Effects of Panax ginseng on Immune System.
By: Kang S1, Min H.
Thousands of literatures have described the diverse role of ginseng in physiological processes such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, insulin resistance, and hypertension. In particular, ginseng has been extensively reported to maintain homeostasis of the immune system and to enhance resistance to illness or microbial attacks through the regulation of immune system. Immune system comprises of different types of cells fulfilling their own specialized functions, and each type of the immune cells is differentially influenced and may be simultaneously controlled by ginseng treatment. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the effects of ginseng on immune system. We discuss how ginseng regulates each type of immune cells including macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells. We also describe how ginseng exhibits beneficial effects on controlling inflammatory diseases and microbial infections.
WebMD (June 5, 2000)… Ginseng May Enhance Immune Function
• Two trials have shown that in healthy volunteers who take ginseng, certain immune cells are more numerous or more active than in people who take a placebo, or sugar pill.
Ginseng: A dietary supplement as immune-modulator in various diseases
• Ginseng is among the leading dietary supplements and functional foods that possess active immune modulation potential.
Ginseng can treat, prevent influenza, RSV, researcher finds
Source: Georgia State University
Ginseng can help treat and prevent influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages, according to research findings by a scientist in Georgia State University's new Institute for Biomedical Sciences.
In a recent issue of Nutrients and an upcoming publication of the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, Sang-Moo Kang reports the beneficial effects of ginseng, a well-known herbal medicine, on human health.
Kang's primary research focuses on designing and developing effective vaccines against viral diseases such as influenza virus and RSV, but he partnered with a university and research institutes in South Korea that wanted international collaborative projects to study if ginseng can be used to improve health and protect against disease because of the potential benefit in fighting these viruses. Ginseng has been reported to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory and immune modifying abilities.
Seasonal influenza is a serious respiratory disease that causes annual epidemics in humans worldwide, resulting in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Influenza can spread quickly, and new, unexpected pandemic influenza viruses may emerge at any time and cross over to different species. The H1N1 influenza virus, a new strain known as swine flu that emerged in 2009, spread rapidly to more than 74 countries. There are also challenges with existing influenza vaccines, such as required annual updates and no protection against pandemic strains and bird flu.
In addition, there are no vaccines available for RSV, which affects millions and is the leading cause of inflammatory bronchiolitis pneumonia and viral death in infants and in some elderly adults.
Ginseng For The Common Cold
Source: Pacific College of Health and Science
Canadian researchers may have found the key to helping keep the cold and flu at bay. Ginseng an herb widely used in Chinese medicine, is proving successful at reducing the number and severity of colds in research subjects.
At least 1 billion colds are reported each year in the U.S. , with a frequency of two to six colds per person. The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2005, found that extracts of North American ginseng enhance immune responses and stimulate natural killer cell cytotoxicity to keep the body healthy through peak illness periods.
According to the study, only one in 10 of those taking ginseng extract suffered two or more colds over a four-month period, compared with one in four of those in the placebo group. Subjects ages 18 to 65 with a history of at least two colds the previous year took two capsules of North American ginseng extract, or Panax quinque folius, during the randomized, double-blind study. They recovered around a third more quickly than those in the placebo group, and their symptoms were measurably less severe.
Ginseng improves stamina and stress resistance. Often called an adaptogen, it helps the body adapt to prevailing stressful situations. In the 1950s, Russian scientist I.I. Brekhman revealed to the West that ginseng enhances human ability to endure physical strain, resist disease and perform tests of mental sharpness.
In Chinese herbal formulas it is used as a yang tonic. Chinese healers most often use ginseng to reinforce qi, enhance memory and stave off cold and flu. Chinese athletes feel it gives them an added competitive edge. Many take it as a stimulant or tonic to increase energy and stamina. Ginseng has been a part of Chinese medicine records for 2000 years and was commonly used by the elderly to improve mental and physical vitality.
The study’s researchers feel ginseng shows great promise in combating the cold and flu. “It appears to be an attractive natural prophylactic treatment for upper respiratory tract infections,” they said. “Our results can be compared with those for many of the common antiviral drugs for the treatment of influenza. The standard extract of North American ginseng was effective in reducing the absolute risk of recurrent colds and the mean number of colds per person.”
This study represents a growing Western interest in herbal medicine and alternative therapies. Although surveys suggest that about one-third of Americans use herbal products as medications, education and research in the Western medical community is still catching up with public interest.