Ginseng: Hope for Autoimmune Diseases
Panax ginseng (also known as Korean or Asian ginseng) is an adaptogenic herb with thousands of years of traditional use. Frequently, it is recommended as part of a supplemental regimen for stress relief, daily energy, and libido. But it has a broad spectrum of effects.
This review found that ginseng may also be a prime candidate for treating autoimmune diseases, including ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.
Compounds in ginseng, including ginsenosides, can have a moderating effect on immune cells – helping them react when necessary for normal defense and protection, but not “over-express” in such a way that creates flare ups in a diverse array of autoimmune conditions.
Although red ginseng is popular as a supplement, finding ginseng with effective levels of compounds known as noble ginsenosides can be difficult. Those rare compounds were mostly a hallmark of wild-crafted forms of Panax ginseng that are no longer available. Additionally, commercially available ginseng products are often sourced from fields that have seen heavy pesticide and chemical use.
However, innovations in pesticide-free ginseng cultivation combined with traditional steaming practices do allow for a safe red ginseng with a broad spectrum of compounds, including rare, noble ginsenosides. It pays to search carefully for a ginseng supplement that has been produced with a high level care for both the environment and the people who can most benefit from it.
Lee JI, Park KS, Cho IH. Panax ginseng: a candidate herbal medicine for autoimmune disease. J Ginseng Res. 2019;43(3):342-348. doi:10.1016/j.jgr.2018.10.002
Panax ginseng Meyer (P. ginseng; Korean ginseng) is well known for its medicinal properties. It can alleviate pathological symptoms, promote health, and prevent potential diseases via its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, homeostatic, and other positive effects on biological metabolism. Although many studies have determined effects of P. ginseng on various diseases, such as cardiovascular, neurological, and immunological diseases, little is known about the effect of P. ginseng on autoimmune diseases. Here, we review a few reports about effects of P. ginseng on autoimmune diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, atopic dermatitis, and rheumatoid arthritis) and suggest the possibility of P. ginseng as a candidate herbal medicine to prevent and treat autoimmune diseases as well as the need to study it.