North American Ginseng and Your Health
Ginseng is a green, perennial herb that is mainly grown for its root. Although there are many so-called ginsengs on the market today, in botanical terms, there are
only two authentic types: North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
and Asianginseng (Panax ginseng)
North American and Asian ginseng differ in their chemical composition and each
appears to have distinct biological properties. While Asian ginseng has been studiedfor many years, it has only been in the last 20 years that Western researchers haveturned their attention to the medicinal properties of North American ginseng (NAG).
Although research is in its early stages, evidence supporting the use of Ontario-grown
ginseng in the treatment of a variety of conditions is beginning to emerge.
Ginseng has a long history of use in Asian medicine as an aphrodisiac. Researcherslooking for potential changes in hormones in laboratory animals that were fed North American ginseng found no changes in male sex hormones, but instead found
Although there are many
that ginseng significantly enhanced male libido and copulatory performance
so-called ginsengs on the
There is also interest in the use of the root in the treatment of sexual dysfunction,
market today, in botanical
such as erectile disorder.
terms, there are only two
Researchers have also turned their attention to studies with Ontario-grown ginseng
authentic types: North
in hormone-dependent cancers
, such as breast and prostate cancer.
American ginseng (Panax
In the laboratory, cultured human breast cancer cells that were exposed to an extract
quinquefolius) and Asian
of NAG inhibited the growth of the cancer cells. This test was performed with two
ginseng (Panax ginseng).
types of breast cancer cells: one that had receptors for estrogen, and one that didnot. Ginseng inhibited the growth of both types of breast cancer cells. Similarly,
There is interest in the
ginseng inhibited cancer cell growth in tests with two types of human prostate cancer cells: ones that were testosterone-responsive and those that were not.
use of North American
Ginseng extracts have also been shown to slow tumor growth in animal studies.
ginseng in the treatment
This effect was enhanced when Ontario-grown ginseng was used in combination
of sexual dysfunction,
with a common chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin.
such as erectile disorder.
For centuries, Ontario-grown ginseng has been used to support health and vitality.
Scientific research is now providing preliminary evidence supporting its medicinal
Researchers have also turned
potential in a variety of body systems and disorders, including the reproductive
their attention to studies
system. Other areas of research include diabetes treatment, prevention of colds
with Ontario-grown ginseng
for more information that could change your life
cancers, such as breast
and prostate cancer.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is pleased to participate in the production of this fact sheet. AAFC is committed to working with our industry partners to increasepublic awareness of the importance of the agriculture andagri-food industry to Canada. Opinions expressed in this factsheet are those of the Ontario Ginseng Growers Associationand not necessarily of AAFC.
R E FE R E NCE S
1. Murphy LL, Cadena RS, Chavez D, Ferraro JS. Effect
3. Duda RB, Zhong Y, Navas V, Li MZ, Toy BR, Alavarez JG.
5. Davis M. Digging for ginseng’s secrets. Perspectives:
of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) on male
American ginseng and breast cancer therapeutic agents
Research and creative activities at SIUC. Spring 2001.
copulatory behavior in the rat. Physiol Behav 1998
synergistically inhibit MCF-7 breast cancer cell growth.
6. Ontario Ginseng Growers Association multidisciplinary
expert advisory and advocate group meeting. February 4,
2. Murphy LL, Lee TJ. Ginseng, sex behaviour, and nitric
4. Duda RB, Kang SS, Archer SY, Meng S, Hodin RA.
oxide. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2002 May;962:372-7.
American ginseng transcriptionally activates p21 mRNA inbreast cancer cell lines. J Korean Med Sci 2001 Dec;16Suppl:S54-60.
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