Ginseng is an herb that is widely used in oriental medicine to treat all types of diseases. Korean ginseng, also known as Panax or Chinese Ginseng, is considered to be the most effective among the various types of ginseng available. It contains a group of compounds called ginsenosides which are said to be responsible for the preventive and curative effects of ginseng.
Because of the potential of herbs in combating various conditions such as diabetes, cancer, fatigue, and stress, etc., several studies were conducted throughout the world to understand the secrets behind the efficacy of this herb. An organization of researchers examined the effects of ginseng, particularly its potential to cure cancer, and published their findings in the Chinese Medicine Journal. They argue that ginsenosides act as functional ligands to activate different steroid hormone receptors. Through such a mechanism, ginseng acts on the body in the same way as steroid hormones.
Ginseng has shown therapeutic effects on the cardiovascular system, central nervous system, immunity, metabolism, endocrine function, stress, and aging. Ginseng has also been widely used in oriental medicine to treat cancer.
The study revealed that the pharmacological effects of ginseng are due to its bioactive content such as ginsenosides, saponins, peptides, polysaccharides, polyacetal, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. According to a report published in the Chinese Medicine Journal, ginsenosides have anti-tumor effects and can induce apoptosis or tumor cell death, anti-proliferation, anti-invasion and metastasis, and anti-angiogenesis.
Metastasis is the process by which cancer spreads from the place where it was first formed as a primary tumor to another part of the body. Metastasis is caused by cancer cells acquiring two different abilities – increased motility and invasion. This involves complex angiogenesis (the process of developing new blood vessels) and cell interactions. By inhibiting tumor-induced angiogenesis, ginsenoid control metastasis. Ginsenosides are also useful in inhibiting cancer invasion. They have been shown to inhibit lung metastases, and reduce most tumors in cancers of melanoma, breast, stomach, and lungs. The only way to cure cancer is to control metastasis and destroy tumor cells.
Ginseng contains several compounds that have been found to be useful in inducing cell death in ovarian cancer cells, prostrating cancer cells and pulmonary adenocarcinoma cells. The researchers say that the way in which ginsenosides help in the removal of tumor cells may be by inducing cell death.
Ginsenosides also show a preventative effect. They inhibit cell cycle development and have been known to stop cell growth in the tumor cell line of lung tumors, prostate cancer, leukemia, and liver cancer.
The researchers say that ginsenosides called Rg3 and Rh2 have appeared in China and Taiwan as anti-cancer drugs. Rg3 suppresses tumor angiogenesis, prevents adhesion, invasion, and metastasis of tumor cells. It was also found that chemotherapy added with Rh2 was 60% more effective than chemotherapy alone. Rh2 also shows promise to reduce the adverse effects of chemo such as hair loss, nausea, anemia, and poor appetite.
Both Rg3 and Rh2 are taken from Korean red ginseng. This magic potion continues to amaze scientists throughout the world and provide people with miracles every day.