Ginseng is an herb that is extensively used in oriental medicine to treat all kinds of diseases. Korean Ginseng, also known as Panax or Chinese Ginseng, is considered the most efficacious among the different types of ginseng available. It contains a group of compounds called ginsenoids which are said to be responsible for the preventative and curative effects of ginseng.
Because of the potency of the herbs in combating many different conditions like diabetes, cancer, fatigue and stress, and others, several studies are performed the world over to understand the secret behind the efficacy of this herb. A group of researchers studied the effects of ginseng, especially its potential to cure cancer, and published their findings in the Chinese Medicine Journal. They opined that ginsenoids act as functional ligands to activate different steroid hormone receptors. Through such mechanisms, ginseng acts on the body in a similar way as steroid hormones.
Ginseng has demonstrated therapeutic effects on the cardio vascular system, central nervous system, immunity, metabolism, endocrine functions, stress and aging. Ginseng has also been extensively used in oriental medicine to treat cancer.
Studies reveal that the pharmacological effects of ginseng are due to its bioactive constituents like ginsenoids, saponins, peptides, polysaccharides, polyacetylenes, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. According to a report published in the Chinese Medicine Journal, ginsenoids have anti-tumor effects and has the ability to induce apoptosis or death of the tumor cells, anti-proliferation, anti-invasion and metastasis, as well as anti-angiogenesis.
Metastasis is the process by which cancer spreads from the place where it first formed as a primary tumor to other parts of the body. Metastasis is caused due to the cancer cells acquiring two distinct abilities – increased motility and invasiveness. It involves a complex process of angiogenesis (the process of developing new blood vessels) and cell interactions. By inhibiting tumor induced angiogenesis, ginsenoids control metastasis. Ginsenoids are also useful in inhibiting invasiveness of cancer. They have been shown to inhibit lung metastasis, and reduce the bulk of tumors in melanoma, breast, gastric and lung cancers. The only way to cure cancer is to control metastasis and destroy the tumor cells.
Ginseng contains several compounds that have been found useful in inducing cell death in ovarian cancer cells, prostrate cancer cells and lung adenocarcinoma cells. The researchers say that the way in which ginsenoids help in elimination of tumor cells may be by inducing cell death.
Ginsenoids also demonstrate preventative effects. They inhibit the cell cycle progression and have been known to stop the cell growth in tumor cell lines of lung tumor, prostrate cancer, leukemia and liver cancer.
Researchers say that ginsenoids called Rg3 and Rh2 have emerged in China ad Taiwan as anti cancer drugs. Rg3 suppresses tumor angiogenesis, prevents adhesion, invasion and metastasis of tumor cells. It was also found that chemotherapy supplemented with Rh2 was 60% more effective than chemotherapy alone. Rh2 also showed promise to mitigate adverse effects of chemo like hair loss, nausea, anemia and poor appetite.
Both Rg3 and Rh2 are extracted from Korean red ginseng. This magical herb continues to astound scientists all over the world and provide people with daily miracles.