American Ginseng belongs to Panax or Ginseng species. Mainly two common Panax varieties are grown in North America and Asian countries. American Ginseng is scientifically named as Panax quinquefolius L. and belongs to Araliaceae family. Eastern North America is the native place to American ginseng. However, this herbal plant also found as a wild plant in the northeastern states of the United States and also grows in Canadian countries like Ontario and Quebec region. British Columbia and Ontario are two Canadian countries are the primary centers for commercial cultivation of American Ginseng. Apart from these, many American states including Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin have also cultivated American Ginseng for commercial purposes.
In traditional medicine, the use of American Ginseng has little evidential. But research review published by Yuan etal gives valuable information about the medicinal properties of American Ginseng. Different research evidence support this herb has significant blood glucose-lowering properties and provides great benefits to diabetic patients. Apart from this, this herb acts on the cardiovascular system, the immune system, the central nervous system and has anti-cancer properties.
But production and storage of American Ginseng is a big challenge due to fungal attack. Fungal infection damage the root and foliage of the American ginseng. Infected plants have a very limited life span. The common fungal attack of the American Ginseng include:
- Cylindrocarpon destructans causes root decay
- Phytophthora causes foliar blight and root rot
- Alternaria alternata and Botrytis cinerea causes foliar and seed infection
- Fusarium species and Rhexocercosporidium causes root infection or rusty root
This fungal infection not only attacks the root part but also invade the seed. The seed-borne pathogens spread from one region to another. Pythium, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia solani are some fungal species which attack seedling and reduce the number of plants. Researchers are working on a natural defense mechanism to prevent this plantation issue.
Also, rusty root or reddish-brown to orange-brown discoloration of the root surface reduces the economic value of the American Ginseng root. This type of changes occurs due to significant biochemical changes develop in American Ginseng root. Such adulteration increases the production cost of American Ginseng root.
Phytochemicals present in American Ginseng
The phytochemicals composition of American Ginseng is different from Asian Ginseng. The root of American Ginseng contains different bioactive phytochemicals, including ginsenosides, polyphenolic compounds, polyacetylenes, and acidic polysaccharides. Ginsenosides is the primary phytochemical present in American Ginseng.
What is the Mode of action of American Ginseng followed to prevent and cure diseases?
- American Ginseng has a potent antioxidant property, which is effective to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Saponins present in this herb is effective to provide Ca2+channel blocking effect and significantly decrease platelet aggregation rate associated with the hyperlipidaemic condition. An animal trial had proven this benefit. The antioxidant property of American Ginseng up-regulates Vascular endothelial growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-basic to promotes promoting angiogenesis in the injured organ.
- Ginsenoside Rb1, bioactive phytochemicals present in American ginseng provides an anti-diabetic effect by stimulating glucose transport in insulin-sensitive cells. Researchers reported that Ginsenoside Rb1 can interfere with the insulin-signaling pathway and promotes insulin secretion.
- American Ginseng is a good source of different Ginsenosides, which act as neurotransmission modulator. The ratio of two important Ginsenosides like Rg1 and Rb1 content in American Ginseng is low and thus this herb has a Central nervous system calming effect. Ginsenosides present in American Ginseng has voltage-dependent Ca2+, K+, and Na+ channel inhibitory activities.
- American ginseng has anti-proliferative effects on cancer cells by arresting the cell cycle and inducing the cells apoptosis. Moreover, this herb also prohibits malignant cell invasion and reduces the inflammatory response.
- American ginseng containing Ginsenosides increase the formation of antibodies, which improve immune functioning. American ginseng treatment increases stem cell proliferation. It also enhances cytokines, interleukins, and white blood cell production.
Different Forms of American Ginseng
Different scientific research studies had proven the efficacy of the following oral dosage:
- Experts recommended 3 gm of American ginseng oral formulations (powder, liquid, or tablet form) can be recommended for type 2 diabetic patients. A daily oral dose of 100-200 mg American ginseng for 8 weeks helps to control the blood sugar level.
- American ginseng extract supplement products such as Cold-FX has manufactured by Afexa Life Sciences, a Canadian company is recommended for common cold or flu. The recommended dose is 200-400 mg twice daily for 3-6 months.
Uses of American Ginseng
Prevention of Heart Diseases
American Ginseng has a cardiac muscle (myocardium) protective effect and also exerts anti-ischemic action. This benefit achieved due to the potent antioxidant property of this herb is effective to reduce free fatty acid levels and elevates lactate dehydrogenase activity. Besides this, American Ginseng also repairs the injured myocardium by promoting angiogenesis.
The anti-diabetic effect of American Ginseng is an effective treatment for Type - 2 diabetic patients. The hypoglycemic effect of American Ginseng has tested on diabetic mice models. This research finding reported that American Ginseng berry, leaf extract treatment reduce fasting blood glucose, improve glucose clearance, and also an effective treatment for associated obesity after a 12days treatment period. Also, American Ginseng root has insulin-sensitizing activities and exerts an anti-diabetic effect.
Cognitive Health Improvement
American Ginseng improves learning ability and acts as a memory booster. An animal model research study reported treatment with ginsenosides improves increase hippocampal synaptophysin levels. Thus, this herbal remedy can treat neuronal deficit condition, prevent memory loss. Researchers expected that American Ginseng treatment can help to treat Alzheimer’s disease by reducing oxidative stress in the neurons and up-regulating the plasticity-related proteins in the hippocampus.
The anticancer property of American Ginseng is an effect to act against drug and chemotherapy-resistant tumor cells. Laboratory-based researches (in-vitro) reported that the anti-cancer property of American Ginseng is effective against breast cancer. Researchers had also proposed that American Ginseng can be combined as an adjuvant therapy along with other chemotherapy for better treatment outcomes. Rat model research study findings supported that this treatment can able to reduce nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy without interfering with the medicinal property of chemotherapeutic agents.
Immunity Booster and Respiratory Disorders
Immunity is a body's natural defense mechanism. This herb acts as an immunity booster and effective against many diseases. American Ginseng increases the cytotoxic ability of antibodies and also improves lymphocytes functioning. Thus the body defense functioning accelerated and immunity power improved. In addition, American Ginseng also has a potent anti-oxidant property and scavenging oxygen free radicals. The reduction of free radicals burden also improves overall health.
Frequent cold and viral attacks due to lack of immunity lead to upper respiratory tract infection. American Ginseng herbal remedy is an effective alternative cold or flu treatment for adult patients.
American Ginseng improves neurotransmitter activity to stimulates sexual arousal, desire, and orgasm, which is essential for healthy sexual activities. Testosterone, luteinizing hormone, Follicle-stimulating hormones are mainly essential to maintain sexual health. These hormonal secretions often declined with increasing age, excessive stress level or other metabolic disorders. Supplementation of American Ginseng can increase testosterone, luteinizing hormone, Follicle-stimulating hormone level and improve libido. This herb promotes germ cell functioning and treats male infertility problem by increasing sperm count, improve sperm motility, and quality.
Safety and Precautionary Measures
An oral dose of American Ginseng with 100-3000 mg daily for short term treatment period (up to 12 weeks) is safe. Some possible side effects of American ginseng oral intake can cause side effects including diarrhea, headache, insomnia, itching, and nervousness. Some patients have a complaint like fast heartbeat, blood pressure fluctuation, tenderness in the breast, vaginal bleeding (for women). Some rare side effects are a severe allergic reaction, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (occurrence of severe rash), and hepatic damage.
Cold-FX manufactured by Afexa Life Sciences, Canada has tested for pediatric use and declared as safe to oral use for children with age between 3 to 12 years.
American Ginseng may not safe for pregnant women and lactating mothers, as it can cause a birth defect.
Diabetic patients who are taking other hypoglycemic medications may have a sudden decrease in blood sugar level. Therefore, consult with a doctor for appropriate dose determination.
American ginseng should not be used for Schizophrenic patient, as it causes sleep disturbance and increases the agitation of the patients.
American ginseng interacts with certain medications including Warfarin, Antidiabetic medications, Immunosuppressants, and anti-depressant medications, such as MAO- inhibitors.