Ginsenosides for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Ginsenosides are saponins extracted from the roots of ginseng plants with an adaptogenic and stimulating action on the immune system. Let’s find out better.

What are ginsenosides

Ginsenosides are a group of triterpene saponins with a steroid structure, present in the roots of plants of the genus Panax L., which also includes Korean ginseng, Panax ginseng CA Meyer, perhaps the best known, although other species have often been described. genus with comparable properties.

Ginseng has adaptogenic properties useful in the treatment of asthenia and fatigue, as it stimulates physical and mental abilities, in conditions of stress, as well as a whole other series of important actions that we will see in detail.

Saponins take their name from the genus Saponaria, where they were described for the first time; the characteristic that distinguishes them and which gives them their name, is the ability to create a surface tension in contact with an aqueous solution, with the formation of foams in a similar way to that determined by soap.

Where are the ginsenosides found

Ginsenosides, as mentioned, are extracted from the root of the ginseng plant, which therefore represents its drug.

A study found that Japanese ginseng contains the highest concentration of ginsenosides, while Korean ginseng the lowest. Furthermore, other researches have also highlighted the variable concentration of ginsenosides in individual species, and how this accentuates different therapeutic potentials. Depending on the origin, there are completely opposite effects, and moreover, under certain conditions, ginseng act in the opposite way.

For example, the ginsenosides Rg1 and Rb1, as they have been called by the researchers, stimulate the activity of the central nervous system, only that the effects of the second type of ginsenosides, Rb1, are minor; thus, since Korean ginseng has a higher concentration of Rg1, its action is more stimulating, while American ginseng, which has a higher concentration of Rb1, has a more calming action on the central nervous system.

Properties of ginsenosides

As mentioned several times, ginsenosides have an action on the central nervous system, therefore, generally and in common use, they are identified as tonics.

Ginseng, in reality, is included among the adaptogenic plant drugs, that is, they adapt the body to the needs: if the person needs to be stimulated, the ginsenosides increase his physical and mental abilities, if he needs to be calmed, they act instead, in this sense.

As we have seen, this distinction is probably made possible by the different concentration of the individual active ingredients.

Ginseng extract is not limited to antiastenic action (against weakness and lack of strength). Studies have also highlighted a stimulating action on the immune system; metabolic, in particular in improving glucose absorption;  nootropa (increased release of neurotransmitters and therefore improvement of brain function) common to all adaptogenic and antidepressant drugs. In addition, ginsenosides also stimulate angiogenesis (growth of new capillaries) and have an antitumor and preventive action against various forms of cancer.

Finally, ginsenosides stimulate the sexual response in both male and female, but they do not have the same effects as sex hormones.

Ginseng extracts are well tolerated and used as a remedy in depressive-asthenic syndromes even in the elderly.

Ginseng is commercially available in various formulations, soft extract, tablets, hydroalcoholic extract, oils, powder. The daily dosage is 1-2 g of root in appropriate formulation.

The type of preparation, the time of administration, the dosage and obviously the choice of raw material, and therefore the concentration of the various active compounds, are crucial in achieving the desired results (stimulus or not).

Contraindications of ginsenosides

Integration with ginseng extracts is contraindicated in hypertensive cardiopathic patients, in subjects suffering from insomnia and in diarrheal syndromes.

Furthermore, the use of ginseng is to be avoided in the case of simultaneous intake of warfarin, with which it has shown negative interactions, and it is not recommended to take it in the evening due to possible effects of hyperexcitability.

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