Highly revered for its healing properties, ginseng has been used for centuries as a “cure-all” herbal remedy for many illnesses. Research centers on the role of the active components of the many species of ginseng, called ginsenosides. And for cardiovascular diseases, the impact of each ginsenoside extends beyond traditional medicine with multiple applications to protect the heart.
Jennifer Hollander, MSN, NP-C, at AuraSpa Healing Center in Beverly Hills, explains that each purified ginsenoside is a metabolite of ginseng that must be studied individually to better classify its mechanism of action. Given the pharmacological functions of these components, Jennifer describes some of the applications of the powerful antioxidant s follows: “Ginseng has been shown to reduce hypertension, platelet adhesion, decrease hyperlipidemia and improve lipid profiles. It can also increase circulation and is myocardial protective. The mechanism of action of the ginseng is the reduction in oxidative stress, the increase of energy metabolism and protection of the cellular mitochondria. It can also increase antioxidant enzymes in the body and support immune system function.”
Ginseng and Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. It includes various conditions such as vascular disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiac ischemia and hypertension, as noted by the Journal of Ginseng Research and Science Direct. Moreover, there are contributing risk factors and blood vessel injuries associated with cardiovascular disease. This also includes inflammation of the arterial wall. Thus, the role of ginseng in such cases is worthy of attention.
Ginseng and ginsenosides have proven to increase coronary blood flow, inhibiting myocardial injury and thus cardiac ischemia. In turn, they address cardiovascular risk factors, including hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. By stimulating nitric oxide, ginsenosides prevent the production of free radicals (reactive oxygen species, or ROS). This regulates blood vessel tone and supports an improvement in arterial rigidity. As such, cardiomyocytes (cardiac cells) are protected against oxidation, while cardiac contraction is increased in cases of cardiac ischemia. Furthermore, blood circulation and pressure is improved through vascular dilation and suppression of the myogenic activity of blood vessels. It’s important to note that even after myocardial tissue dysfunction, ginseng can preserve cardiac function through decreasing calcineurin activation, calcium modulation and nitric oxide production through the Akt/P13K pathway.
In conclusion, though research is ongoing, there is no question that ginseng and ginsenosides provide multiple functions that reduce the incidence of heart failure and morbidity.
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Posted on behalf of Jennifer Hollander, NP