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Are ginseng and ginsenosides good for liver cancer?

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Are ginseng and ginsenosides good for liver cancer?

Ginseng is a traditional medicinal herb with many pharmacological benefits in the Asian counties and has gained popularity among western countries in recent years.

Attributed to its active constituents ginsenosides, ginseng presents many health-enhancing functions, ranging from immunity boosting to cancer prevention and treatment. Scientists have made much research on ginseng and ginsenosides and extended their usefulness in many diseases. Liver cancer, one of the deadliest cancers in the world, became the research objective for scientists who are interested in studying the effects of herbal medicines on various cancers.

Ginseng and ginsenosides have been found to kill hepatic cell lines. South Korean scientists found that Korean red ginseng and its primary ginsenosides Rh2 and Rg3 exerted cytotoxic on human hepatocellular carcinoma cells and induced their apoptosis. Also, ginsenoside Rg3 was reported to induce apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells and to inhibit liver cancer growth in vivo via alterations of Bcl-2 family proteins. 

Animal studies were conducted to investigate the effect of ginseng and ginsenosides on hepatocarcinogenesis. A collaborative research by American and South Korean researchers made experiments to determine the potential chemopreventive effects of Korean red ginseng extract on hepatocarcinogenesis in rats. The experimental results showed that the 0.5~1% dose of Korean red ginseng has a chemopreventive effect on chemically-induced rat hepatocarcinogenesis by suppression of oxidative stress and modulation of redox-enzymes. The study was published in the Journal of Cancer.

Moreover, a clinical study suggested the preventive role of ginseng and ginsenosides on liver cancer. The study published in the Journal of Ginseng Research found the therapeutic effects of Korean red ginseng extract in patients with chronic liver diseases. 

The project recruited 30 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and another 30 with liver cirrhosis. And they were divided into two group, the control group treated with medical therapy alone, and the treated group receiving medical therapy together with Korean red ginseng capsules. Patients were given clinical examination and laboratory investigations, including liver function tests. The experiment lasted 11 weeks and the results showed that Korean red ginseng-given group saw a significant improvement in liver function tests, lowered the tumor marker AFP levels and reduced the viral titers in the hepatitis C virus. The study suggested that Korean red ginseng can play a significant role in fighting against hepatitis C virus and liver cancer.

Many studies have indicated that ginseng and ginsenosides can be potentially valuable in preventing and treating chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver cancer. People suffering from liver problems can take some ginseng and ginsenoside supplements, but how should we choose a good one?

Korean red ginseng, prepared from heated Panax ginseng, contains high amounts of ginsenosides including ginsenosides Rh2 and Rg3, and it is ginsenosides contained in Korean red ginseng that have strong active anticancer activities. Therefore, products contained a high concentration of ginsenosides are best options for users.

The well-known ginsenosides include Rh2, Rg3, Rk2Rh3 and aPPD. The products with multiple ginsenosides are currently available on the Amazon. Always remember to consult with your healthcare professional before taking any supplements. 

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