Can Ginseng treat and prevent influenza?
Ginseng is the most commonly used name to refer to any of the 11 species of the perennial plant belonging to the Panax genus . This perennial plant is known for its fleshy and full of properties roots. In fact, Ginseng polysaccharide has been known to have multiple immunomodulatory effects, promoting the production of cytotoxic cells against tumors and stimulating macrophages to produce helper types 1 and 2 (Th1 and Th2) cytokines , a type of small proteins that affect the behavior of other cells.
Among the different species from Ginseng one is especially known for its use in traditional Chinese medicine, Panax ginseng, a plant that is known for thousands of years and that has already been used for more than 2,000 years not only in China but also in Korea, other countries in Asia and most recently Europe and the rest of the world. Its commercial importance has exponentially grown over the past century. Now the question is, Can ginseng treat and prevent influenza?
Common name: Ginseng
ACTIVE CONSTITUENTS IN GINSENG - THE GINSENOSIDES -
Panax ginseng has been suggested to exert multiple biological and immunomodulatory effects and to enhance immune response, memory, and physical capabilities [2,3,4,5], properties and health benefits that have been exerted by this plant most probably due to the presence of a specific active constituent, a type of saponins named ginsenosides, of which over 30 have been identified in Panax ginseng [2,6].
The pharmacological effects of ginseng have been reported not only in the central nervous system but also in others as the cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems [2,7].
GINSENG FOR THE TREATMENT OF INFLUENZA
In spite several studies refer to the properties and health benefits of ginseng, not many refer to the ability that this plant has to treat influenza.
Seasonal influenza is a serious respiratory disease that causes annual epidemics resulting in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization, as the H1N1 influenza virus, a new strain known as swine flu that emerged in 2009 and spread rapidly to more than 74 countries .
Some studies done on mice refer to the benefits of red ginseng extract and how this significantly increased survival when administered prior to infection.
At least one study referred how mice survival increased after oral administration of Panax ginseng and after infection with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus , a highly pathogenic influenza virus endemic in many countries and with a great potential for causing a pandemic in humans .
According to research findings by a scientist in Georgia State University's new Institute for Biomedical Sciences  and a study published in Nutrients, Sang-Moo Kang, associate professor at Georgia State University, red ginseng extract, a functional food that has been well known for keeping good health due to its anti-fatigue and immunomodulating activities , improves the survival of human lung epithelial cells infected with influenza virus .
The immune-enhancing prowess of ginseng has been known for millennia. Red Ginseng could be better protected from the lethal infections of H5N1 influenza virus.
Data suggest that the diet with the immune-enhancing Red Ginseng could help humans to overcome the infections by H5N1 influenza virus as data suggest that the diet with the immune-enhancing Red Ginseng could help humans to overcome the infections by HP H5N1 influenza virus .
Other studies suggest how intranasal co-administration with inactivated influenza virus A and ginseng or Salviae extract increased the levels of influenza virus-specific antibodies and neutralizing activities and provided protective immunity .
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