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Panax ginseng

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Panax ginseng is a species of slow-growing perennial plants belonging to the Panax genus in the family Araliaceae. It grows in the Northern Hemisphere in eastern Asia mostly northern China, Korea, typically in cooler climates. Panax ginsengs, is the adaptogenic herbs. It is a smooth perennial herb, with a large, fleshy, very slow-growing root, 2 to 3 inches in length and from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness. The stem is simple and erect, about a foot high, bearing three leaves, each divided into five finely-toothed leaflets, and a single, terminal umbel, with a few small, yellowish flowers. The fruit is a cluster of bright red berries.
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Indian Names
Panax ginseng
Chemical Constituents
The ingredients in the ginseng root that contribute towards the healing property are the chemicals known as saponin, triterpenoid, glycosides, collectively called as ginsenosides. Several classes of compounds have been isolated from ginseng root such as triterpene saponins. Although different ginseng species may be used differently in traditional medicines, all species contain ginsenosides as active components and most of the pharmacological activity of ginseng can be attributed to these compounds (1). Essential oil obtained from Panax ginseng contains polyacetylenes, sesquiterpenes, polysaccharides, peptidoglycans, nitrogen-containing compound, and various ubiquitous compounds such as fatty acids, carbohydrates, and phenolic compounds. Ginsenosides are specific types of triterpene saponin, a broad group of chemical compounds. Approximately 40 ginsenoside compounds have been identified in P. ginseng. Ginsenosides are classified into two groups by the skeleton of their aglycones the glycosides of 20(S)-protopanaxadiol (20[S]- dammar-24-ene-3b, 12b, 20- triol) and those of 20(S)-protopanaxatriol (6ahydroxy- 20[S]-protopanaxadiol) Ginsenosides are distributed in many parts of the ginseng plant, including the root, leaf, and berry. Different parts of the plant contain distinct ginsenoside profiles (2). Chemical constituents of p. ginseng berry The chemical constituents of P. ginseng berry have been investigated and several classes of primary and secondary metabolites have been isolated. The water soluble polysaccharide has been isolated from P. ginseng berry and free amino acid from the seeds of P. ginseng. The neuro excitatory beta-N-oxalyl alpha, betadiaminopropionic acid was the major component in the seed extract (70% of the total free amino acids detected). Another neuro-active non-protein amino acid, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) isolated a new indole alkaloid, ginsenine, with a seven-membered lactam unit from the berry of P. ginseng. Four compounds were isolated from the fruit of cultivated P. ginseng and identified as betasitosterol, 20(R)-protopanaxatriol, daucosterine and 20(R)-ginsenoside-Rg3 on the basis of physicochemical constants. A new dammarane-type triterpene monoglucoside, named isoginsenoside-Rh(3) has also been isolated from the fruits of P. ginseng, together with eight known analogs, ginsenoside. However, berries produced more total ginsenosides, and berry ginsenoside profile differed from that of roots. The ginsenoside Re content of berries was 4-6 times more than that of roots (3).
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritating to the skin as well as to the internal organs, hence it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
As a medicinal herb, ginseng has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for its wide spectrum of medicinal effects, such as tonic, immuno modulatory, anti mutagenic, adaptogenic and anti aging activities. Many of its medicinal effects are attributed to the triterpene glycosides known as ginsenosides (saponins). Ginsenosides also has the radio protective effects on mammalian cells both in vitro and in vivo. Results indicate that the extract of whole ginseng appears to give protection against radiation-induced DNA damage than does the isolated ginsenoside fractions (4). Since free radicals play an important role in radiation-induced damage, the underlying radio protective mechanism of ginseng could be linked, either directly or indirectly, to its anti oxidative capability by scavenging free radicals responsible for DNA damage. In addition, ginseng’s radio protective potential may also be related to its immuno modulating capabilities. In addition to its anti tumor properties, ginseng appears to be a promising radio protector for therapeutic or preventive protocols capable of attenuating the deleterious effects of radiation on human normal tissue, especially for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy (5). Ginsenosides are associated with a variety of important pharmacological effects in the human body, including antioxidant, anti stress, anti hepatitis, anti diabetic and anti neoplastic activity. Ginsenosides have immuno modulating action, and have beneficial effects within the cardiovascular, hematopoietic, endocrine, and immune and central nervous systems. Studies indicate that ginseng also has potential as a chemo preventive agent or adjuvant treatment. Some of the cancers shown to decrease significantly with ginseng use include cancers of the pharynx, stomach, liver, pancreas, and colon. Mechanisms include inhibition of DNA damage, induction of apoptosis, and inhibition of cell proliferation. It is also becoming increasingly clear that ginseng has potent effects on the inflammatory cascade and may inhibit the inflammation cancer sequence.
Health Benefits
Ginseng is a valuable oriental herb, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, both as a disease-healing drug and a general tonic. Ginsenosides appear to be responsible for most of the activities of ginseng including anti carcinogenic, immuno modulatory, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-atherosclerotic, antihypertensive, and anti-diabetic effects as well as anti stress activity and effects on the central nervous system (7). It has been shown that the root of Panax ginseng and other ginseng species possess anti-hyperglycemic activity in vitro and in vivo. The root of Panax ginseng has been used to improve glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity and further clinically to treat type 2 diabetes. It has been observed that it significantly lowers blood glucose level in non-diabetic subjects and type 2 diabetic patients similar to that of an insulin sensitizer (rosiglitazone)- treated group. Moreover, ginseng therapy for type 2 diabetes improves psychophysical performance, and reduces fasting blood glucose and body weight. A 200 mg dose of ginseng improves hemoglobin, serum lipid, amino-terminal propeptide concentration, and physical activity (8). These observations suggest that ginseng is beneficial for the people with type 2 diabetes and to prevent development of diabetes in non-diabetic subjects. Ginseng contains active compounds normalizing blood pressure. It was reported that ginseng induced no significant change in blood pressure in those subjects with normal blood pressure, but had a normalizing effect on the subjects with abnormal blood pressure. It has recently been reported that vasodilation and protective effect of ginsenoside Rg1 against free radical injury might be related to enhanced synthesis and release of NO (Nitric Oxide), demonstrating the usefulness of ginseng in treatment of pulmonary and systemic hypertension .
Application in Cosmetics
Ginseng root extract can be used in skin care because ginseng contains many structural substances and vitamins that maintain elasticity, vitality, and regeneration capacity of the skin cells. Ginseng, a plant extract can also tone and revitalize skin. Ginseng can help balance the oil gland production and can smooth fine lines and wrinkles in mature skin. Promoted as an anti-aging skin treatment, ginseng contains a large number of phytonutrients. These phytonutrients can stimulate and activate the skin's metabolism and blood flow to regenerate and tone. It can also brighten the whiteness of skin.
Research References
1. Sook Y. L., Yong K. K., Nam P., Chun S. K., Chung Y. L., and Sang U. P. Chemical constituents and biological activities of the berry of Panax ginseng Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 2010 4(5):349-353. 2. Sang H. L., Byung H. J., Sun Y. K., Eunjoo H. L. and Bong C. C. The antistress effect of ginseng total saponin and ginsenoside Rg3 and Rb1 evaluated by brain polyamine level under immobilization stress Pharmacological Research 2006 54(1): 46-49 3. Tung-K. L., RobertaM.J., Ron R.A., Kevin F.O.,and Larry J.D., radio protective potential of ginseng Mutagenesis. 2005 20 (4)237–243, 4. Michael J. Wargovich Colon Cancer Chemoprevention with Ginseng and Other Botanicals J Korean Med Sci 2001; 16(Suppl): S81-6 5. Jong D. P., Dong K. R. and You H. L. Biological activities and chemistry of saponins from Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer Phytochemistry Reviews (2005) 4: 159–175 _ Springer 2005 6. Katsuko K., Chihiro T. and Shu Z. GINSENG DRUGS – MOLECULAR AND CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS AND POSSIBILITY AS ANTIDEMENTIA DRUGS Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research 2005 3(1): 47-64, 7. Shin H. R., Kim J. Y., Yun T. K., Morgan G., Vainio H. The cancer-preventive potential of Panax ginseng: a review of human and experimental evidence. Cancer Causes Control. 2000 (6):565-76 8. Anoja S. A., Yun-Ping Z., Jing-Tian X., Ji An W., Liu Z., Lucy D., William P., Paul A. R., Kenneth S. P., and Chun-Su Y. Antidiabetic Effects of Panax ginseng Berry Extract and the Identification of an Effective Component. 2002 Diabetes 51: 1851–1858. 9. Jianyong W. and Jian-J. Z. Production of ginseng and its bioactive components in plant cell culture: Current technological and applied aspects Journal of Biotechnology Volume 1999 68 (2-3): 89-99