Osteopenia is a condition of calcium loss from the bone to the blood, resulting in bone hollowness and porosity. It features reduced bone mass and strength (density) and increases the risk of bone fractures.
Osteopenia has no special symptoms and is not detected unless people do a bone density scan. However, serious osteopenia can cause bone pain and weakness in the broken bone.
Ginseng is a popular medicinal herb, and its main active ingredients, known as ginsenosides, show many pharmacological activities including anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, immunomodulation, antitumor, etc.
Recent studies indicate that ginsenosides promote bone metabolism, support bone formation and inhibit bone resorption.
South Korean researcher conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the effectiveness and safety of ginseng supplementation on bone metabolism and arthritis symptoms in women with osteopenia. The trial lasted 12 weeks and a total of 90 participants was randomly assigned into a placebo group, the group administrated 1 gram of ginseng extract daily or the group administrated 3 grams of ginseng extract daily.
The researchers of the study examined multiple biomarkers related to bone metabolism and arthritis. They found that participants administrated 3 grams of ginseng extract daily experienced significantly increased serum osteocalcin and decreased DPD/OC ratio, representing beneficial to bone metabolism, and bone resorption and formation, respectively.
These results came with improved index scores in the WOMAC question test used to measure osteoarthritis index. Participants in the group treated with 3 grams of ginseng extract daily showed better improved the knee arthritis symptoms.
The study concluded the beneficial effect of ginseng on bone metabolism in postmenopausal women with osteopenia, via improved key biomarkers of bone formation.
The authors conveyed that the study was limited to unclear effects of ginseng extract on bone metabolism, a small number of participants and short trial length. However, it is an innovative study that examined the effects of ginseng in human studies considering very few clinical studies in this field.
Jung, Su-Jin, Mi-Ra Oh, Dae Y. Lee, Young-Seob Lee, Geum-Soog Kim, Soo-Hyun Park, Soog-Kyoung Han, Young-Ock Kim, Sun-Jung Yoon, and Soo-Wan Chae. 2021. “Effect of Ginseng Extracts on the Improvement of Osteopathic and Arthritis Symptoms in Women with Osteopenia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial” Nutrients 13, no. 10: 3352. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13103352