Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases, and it is a very risky condition for human health. Blood vessels harden with age. Blood arteries are large-diameter, elastic with smooth walls in childhood, while at old age, they become hardening and narrow with accumulated plaques.
When inflammation symptoms trigger the break of plaques (composed of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances), platelets from blood cells will stick together and form blood clots in a very short time to block the blood circulation to the brain and heart, thus causing an ischemic stroke or myocardial infarction.
Medical agents that can clear away unhealthy fat, cholesterol in the blood are good for people with atherosclerosis. Ginseng is considered a promising medicinal herb that can be used to treat atherosclerosis. The active ingredients in ginseng, known as ginsenosides, exhibit brilliant properties to suppress inflammation, decrease lipids, and regulate blood glucose levels.
There are currently 150 kinds of ginsenosides identified by scientists, and they have different biological activities and roles. The potential roles of ginsenosides in atherosclerosis include:
- lowering blood lipids and reversing the levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, triglyceride
- suppressing inflammatory factors and oxidative stress response
- decreasing vascular calcification
- reversing the imbalance between apoptosis and autophagy
- stabilizing plaque and attenuating the formation of plaque
- reducing monocyte adhesion
- reducing the migration of vascular smooth muscle cells inhibit the formation of neointima to inhibit plaque formation
- inhibiting calcium ion channels to reduce plaque formation
- reversing cholesterol transport
Besides the above roles, ginsenosides can also inhibit blood platelet aggregation to prevent the formation of thrombus.
Ginsenoside Rg3 has been found to inhibit rat platelet aggregation in a dose-independent manner. In a human platelet model, ginsenoside Rg3 effectively inhibited platelet aggregation by suppressing platelet-activating factors “thrombins”.
Ginsenosides have long been used to promote the widening of blood vessels and ameliorate vascular dysfunction for thousands of years. Today, we still need to conquer more challenges to promote ginsenoside use in atherosclerosis treatment.