The Next Virus Fighter – Korean Red Ginseng
Even aside from seasonal flus, viruses have a life of their own all year long. And viruses of all kinds can mutate in ways that stump conventional means of fighting them. With that mind, researchers in Korea have investigated the properties of red ginseng – a Panax ginseng that has been steamed and dried to bring out its best components.
While ginseng is commonly thought of as an adaptogen or a libido-enhancing botanical, it has an extremely complex set of constituents that do many things in the body. This includes protective effects against seasonal viruses like influenza and rhinoviruses, and even other systemic health threats like hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus.
Im K, Kim J, Min H. Ginseng, the natural effectual antiviral: Protective effects of Korean Red Ginseng against viral infection. J Ginseng Res. 2016 Oct;40(4):309-314. Epub 2015 Sep 16.
Korean Red Ginseng (KRG) is a heat-processed ginseng developed by the repeated steaming and air-drying of fresh ginseng. Compared with fresh ginseng, KRG has been shown to possess greater pharmacological activities and stability because of changes that occur in its chemical constituents during the steaming process. In addition to anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulatory activities, KRG and its purified components have also been shown to possess protective effects against microbial infections. Here, we summarize the current knowledge on the properties of KRG and its components on infections with human pathogenic viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, influenza virus, human immunodeficiency virus, human herpes virus, hepatitis virus, norovirus, rotavirus, enterovirus, and coxsackievirus. Additionally, the therapeutic potential of KRG as an antiviral and vaccine adjuvant is discussed.