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How Ginseng Works - Nervous System

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There is evidence that American ginseng helps protect nervous tissue during strokes. Neuronal damage during ischaemia has been associated with abnormal sodium ion fluxes. American ginseng, and also ginsenoside Rb1, blocked these fluxes in a dose and voltage dependant manner. Japanese research also found that Rb1 gave (hippocampal) neurone protection during ischaemia - the study suggested that it scavenged free radicals which are overproduced in situ after brain ischaemia and reperfusion. It concluded that this may "validate the empirical usage of ginseng root over thousands of years for the prevention of cerebrovascular diseases."

Ginseng - nervous system Research published in Korea found that exposing young rats to hypoxic conditions on 3 consecutive days killed 50% of them. Pre-treating with ginsenoside Rb1 reduced deaths to 12%, and also significantly reduced the recovery time from hypoxia-related symptoms in surviving rats. Rb1 also significantly reduced LDH release from primary hippocampal neurones. Pre-treatment with Rb1 also increased Ca2+ independent kinase activity 48 hours after hypoxia. A similar Japanese study on gerbils found similar results for Rb1, and demonstrated that neither ginsenoside Rg1 nor Ro produced this effect.

Brain aging:

American ginseng can help protect nerve cells from the aging process. Beta-amyloid-related peptides play a significant part in memory degeneration in the elderly. Canadian work on rats suggests the anti-amnestic effect of Rb1 may be by minimising the inhibitory effect of beta-amyloid peptides (also see Alzheimer's disease in section on memory and learning).

Parkinson's disease:

Several scientific studies in China have found that pre-treating mice with ginsenoside Rg1 protected them from developing a syndrome similar to Parkinson's disease (neuronal loss/apoptosis in substantia nigra), caused by injecting with the neurotoxin MPTP. Rg1 reduced the loss of dopaminergic neurons and apoptosis (genetically programmed cell death) caused by MPTP (p<0.01). This neuroprotective effect is potentially due to its antioxidant property, and its inhibitory effect on JNK signalling cascade activation. The hallmark of Parkinson s disease is the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, probably due to ongoing oxidative stress. The authors therefore postulate that Rg1 may help prevent and treat Parkinson's disease, but cautioned that further research is needed.

Motor Neurone Disease:

Another Canadian (2000) study examined the effect of American ginseng on motor neurone disease - given previous research that showed that ginseng is an antioxidant; it reduced neuronal death during cerebral ischaemia, and improved learning/memory in rats. The authors concluded that American ginseng may delay the onset of symptoms of motor neurone disease (116d vs 94d, p<0.001) and increase survival (139d vs 132d, P<0.05) in transgenic mice.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

A Canadian (2001) study found that American ginseng, when combined with Ginkgo biloba extracts, improved symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The open, uncontrolled study of 4 weeks duration included 36 children. 44% had fewer social problems, and 74% improved on the Conner's Parent Rating. 14% reported adverse events of which 2 (6%) were considered related to the medication.

Chronic pain:

A 2001 study in Hong Kong found that mice fed an extract of American ginseng spent significantly less time biting injured paws. The authors concluded that ginseng may have an analgesic effect in the chronic pain model.

Please note:
Any scientific information has been assembled by Simply Ginseng from reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals. We have tried to ensure it is clear, balanced and without bias. This information should not be construed as claims for any of our products. Always consult your health care professional.Use only as directed. Always read the label.
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