Siberian Ginseng and its infection fighting capabilities

Siberian Ginseng And Its Infection Fighting CapabilitiesSiberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) comes from the Ginseng herb family, which also includes the well-known Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), which is the type that is generally found readily available, that you may have come across in Chinese supermarkets or the American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) variety. Ginseng, with the literal meaning of “man root” has been used extensively in the East. Siberian ginseng, also known as eleuthero, has completely different chemical properties in comparison to the other types. It is a thorny shrub that mainly grows in Far-East Russia, in China, where it is used in the form of traditional Chinese medicine, Korea and Japan as a tonic and anti-fatigue agent. It has been coined as an “adaptogen” due to its safe, non-specific properties with its ability to help prevent a number of different illnesses.

Health benefits of Siberian Ginseng on the Immune System

Research has shown that its intake has been beneficial in many areas including the prevention of the cold and flu symptoms such as sore throats, muscle aches and joint pains as well as reducing the length and severity of those nasty persistent colds.

It has shown to boost and stimulate the immune system:

  • Bohn and colleagues looked at the immune system of 36 healthy individuals by analysing their blood samples after taking the Siberian ginseng 3 times daily for 4 weeks as a 10ml preparation of eleuthro (Siberian ginseng) in ethanol.
  • There was an increase in the number of white blood cells (lymphocytes) including activity of the T helper/inducer kind as well as the cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells that eliminate invading cells and those that have been virally infected. No side effects were seen.(i)
  • In another study individuals were exposed to different concentrations of the crude Siberian ginseng and ethanol extract.
  • The study showed elueuthro (Siberian ginseng) had both immune enhancing (stimulatory) and inhibitory effects, providing evidence for its ability in modulating the immune system(ii).
  • It has also been used as a tonic for strength and vitality especially when recovering from surgery or after an illness.

It has been used for the treatment and prevention of infections such as herpes simplex virus type 2, as well as to decrease the severity and occurrence of influenza infections. A double blind-study with 93 volunteers with herpes simplex virus 2 (which can lead to genital herpes) found that there was a reduction (of 50%) in the number of outbreaks. Those that did occur were less severe and did not last as long. (iii)

Siberian Ginseng and Cancer

A number of the chemical constituents of this particular ginseng appear to have anti-cancer properties (eg. Immunoprotective effects against breast cancer, stomach cancer, skin melanoma, ovarian carcinomas etc.) as well anti-oxidative effects, that amongst other factors and effects, prevents tumour growth as seen in studies in vivo and in vitro with macrophages (white blood cells) in miceiv.

What is Siberian Ginseng made of?

It is made mainly from the root, which contains a mixture of components including eleuthrosides and polysaccharides, which boost the immune system.

These include among other factors:

  • Sesamin – anti-cancer effect
  • β-sitosterol - anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory effect
  • Caffeic Acid – anti-oxidative, anti-cancer effect protecting against cell damage.
  • Isofrixidin – anti-cancer effect
  • Syringin – Improves white blood cell count (immunostimulatory) and protects against radiation damage.

More research needs to be undertaken as there appears to be many other benefits and associations including heart problems such as coronary ischemia, and those suffering from high blood pressure, pneumonia and hepatic dysfunction. Siberian ginseng is truly a multi-player as it has immunity-enhancing, anti-fatigue, anti-stress, antidepressant and anti-cancer properties to name a few.

References

  • i Bohn B, Nebe CT, Birr C. (1987). Flow-cytometric studies with eleutherococcus senticosus extract as an immunomodulatory agent. Arzneimittelforschung 37(10), 1193-6.
  • ii Bleakney TL. (2008). Deconstructing an Adaptogen: Eleutherococcus senticosus. Holist Nurs Pract. 22 (4), 220-4.
  • iii Williams M. Immuno-protection against herpes simplex type II infection by Eleutherococcus root extract. Int J Alt Complement Med . 1995;13:9-12
  • iv Davydov M, Krikorian AD. (2000). Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim. (Araliaceae) as an adaptogen: a closer look. J Ethnopharmacol.. 72 (3), 345-93
Written by Yumna Ahmed at 21:00
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