Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng meyer) is a traditional Asian remedy that has been used as a medicine for over 4000 years. It was so important in the 16th Century that wars were fought over the rights to the ginseng fields. Panax ginseng is famous for its revitalising effects as well as its ability to boost the immune system and confer chemoprotection. Three new studies on this amazing remedy have recently been published.
1. Effects on bisphenol a and menstrual problems.
Bisphenol A is a chemical that is present in plastics that are used to line cans and bottles that contain drinks and foodstuffs. The substance is known to have oestrogenic properties and cause disruption to the endocrine system. In a new study, female participants answered a questionnaire on gynaecological problems at the start of the study and were then divided into two groups. Group A was given 2.7g of Korean ginseng daily for two weeks and Group B was given placebo. Urine was analysed for the total amount of bisphenol A and the oxidative stress marker malondialdehyde before the start of the study and at two points during the study and then at the end. Results showed that the Korean ginseng group had significantly lower bisphenol A and malondialdehyde in their urine than the controls. They also showed improvement in gynaecological problems such as irregular periods, pain and constipation.
Yang et al. Effects of Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng meyer) on bisphenol a exposure and gynecologic complaints: single blind randomized clinical trial of efficacy and safety. BMC Complement Altern Med. Jul 2014.
2. Panax ginseng improves insulin resistance and lipid levels
Researchers in China have published a paper in the peer reviewed medical journal Metabolism in their investigation into the effect of the ginsenosides in Panax ginseng on the excess lipids and insulin resistance in an animal model. The group's results showed that four weeks of treatment with the ginsenosides significantly reduced hyperlipidemia and improved insulin resistance. The group concludes that the ginsenosides acted by increasing secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1, which is known to increase insulin sensitivity.
Liu et al. Association of GLP-1 secretion with anti-hyperlipidemic effect of ginsenosides in high fat diet fed rats. Metabolism June 2014.
3. Korean red ginseng and blood pressure in healthy adults.
A research group in Canada has investigated the acute effects of Panax ginseng on the blood pressure and arterial stiffness in a group of healthy volunteers. The volunteers were given either 400mg of ginseng extract or 400mg of a control on two hospital visits 7 days apart. Measurements were taken at the start and then 1,2 and 3 hours after taking the ginseng or control extract. Results showed that panax ginseng extract reduced central and peripheral arterial blood pressure in an acute way. The team suggests that further longer studies should be carried out on patients with higher risk.
Jovanovski et al. Effect of Rg-3 enriched Korean red ginseng ( Panax ginseng ) on arterial stiffness and blood pressure in healthy individuals: a randomized controlled trial. J. Am Soc Hypertens. Apr 2014.