Ginsenosides are the main active ingredient of ginsengs. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is not as well studied, scientifically, as are Asian ginsengs (Panax ginseng.) American ginseng is known to treat many systems in the body and is used for cancer chemoprevention and for controlling tumor growth. Steaming or heating American ginseng seems at alter the ginsenoside content and make it have stronger anticancer effects.
Ginsenosides are part of a family of chemicals called saponins. American ginseng contains 60 different ginsenosides. The relative amounts of the ginsenosides in declining order are as follows: leaf>root-hair>rhizome>root>stem. The major ginsenosides make up 70% of the ginsenosides of American ginseng. The different kinds of ginseng can be identified by their ginsenoside content.
Ginseng can be either red or white. Red ginseng is steamed or heated. White ginseng is air-dried after it is harvested. Red ginseng has stronger anti-cancer effects than does the white. Only 5% of ginsenosides are absorbed in the intestine. The ginsenoside content is transformed by the bacteria of the intestine.
There are several ways by which American ginseng helps prevent cancer. Ginsenosides seem to be able to alter the cell’s cycles, can trigger apoptosis (a form of natural cell death) and can prevent the formation of new blood vessels to prevent tumor growth.
There are reports of the ability of American ginseng to prevent the migration of cancer cells through the blood stream. Ginseng prevents inflammation. Ginsenosides help prevent the development of multidrug (multi-drug) resistance (a problem in chemotherapy in which the drugs no longer destroy the cancer cells.)
CONCLUSION: The anticancer effects of American ginseng and the component ginsenosides have been listed. The therapeutic limit at this time is the poor absorption in the intestine.
NOTE: Eleuthero (Siberian “ginseng”) or Eleuterococcus senticosus doesn’t have ginsenosides. It has eleutherosides.
Read more about colorectal cancer and American ginseng.
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