Panax ginseng

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The root of Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer (Araliaceae), usually 4 to 6 years after cultivation, has been used as a general tonic or adaptogen and is frequently featured in TEM prescriptions. Many studies have validated the empirical usage of ginseng over thousands of years for gi-invigorating and cardiovascular effects in TEM. The main active components of P. ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects [14]. P. notoginseng, from the same genus as P. ginseng, and its saponins exert a protective effect on ischemic brain damage in vivo [15, 16] and focal cerebral ischemia [17, 18].

Ginseng has neuroprotective effects in transient focal or global cerebral ischemia [19-21]. Red ginseng powder, which is steamed ginseng under pressure, also prevents delayed neuronal death in gerbils. Ginsenoside Rb1 (Fig. 16.1) protects the brain from reversible focal brain ischemia in rats [22] and protects hippocampal CA1 neurons by scavenging free radicals [23]. Ginsenoside Rb1 stimulates the expression of the mitochondrion-associated antiapoptotic factor Bcl-x(L) in vitro and in vivo [24]. Ginsenoside Rg1 increases ischemia-induced cell proliferation and survival in the dentate gyrus of adult gerbils [25].

With reference to the studies conducted, the neuroprotective effects of ginseng on brain ischemia can be explained by multiple mechanisms, including scavenging free radicals and inhibiting the CNS. The compounds responsible for these neuro-protective effects require further investigation, but ginsenoside Rb1 could be one of the main neuroprotective compounds within the ginseng root.

R1 R2 R3

Gensenoside Rb1 O-Glc2-Glc -H O-Glc6-Glc

Gensenoside Rg1 -OH

O-Glc O-Glc

Bilobalide

och3

OH O

och3

OH O

OH O

Tanshinone I Tanshinone IIA

Baicalein

Wogonin

Epigallocatechin gallate

Puerarin

Theanine

OH OH

och3 Paeonol

a-Asarone

OH OH

Fig. 16.1 Chemical structures of active compounds of neuroprotective herbs

Magnolol Honokiol Huperzine A

Fig. 16.1 Chemical structures of active compounds of neuroprotective herbs

OH O

COCH

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