Ginsenosides and gintonin, the main bioactive constituents of Panax ginseng, can help alleviate Alzheimer’s disease by diverse mechanisms of action including decreasing amyloid plaque deposit, according to a study review published in the Journal of Ginseng Research.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of neurons and synapses. Short-term memory loss is one of the commonest symptoms. The disease is associated with amyloid plaques in the brain, which is considered the main culprit of the occurrence of AD.
The study was conducted by researchers at Ginsentology Research Laboratory and Department of physiology, Konkuk University. Researchers reviewed a number of studies and illustrated the mechanisms of action of ginsenosides and gintonin in improving Alzheimer’s disease in details.
Effects of ginseng extracts on patients with AD
As presented in the study review, numerous studies have shown that the patients with AD who administrated ginseng extracts and conventional AD drugs together saw an improvement in cognitive function. To identify the effects of the ginseng extract on cognitive impairment imposed by minor adverse effects, experimental tests were targeted at some detailed indicators of AD, including attention, recall, language and other core symptoms and the results showed that long-term treatment with high concentrations of ginseng extract improved the frontal cortical activity of the brain in elderly patients and alleviated the cognitive impairment to some extent.
Mechanisms of action of ginsenosides and gintonin in anti-AD activities
Due to the neurotoxicity of amyloid, amyloid plaque deposit is thought to be the main cause of AD, besides, the occurrence of AD is reportedly associated with cholinergic dysfunction, and oxidative stress, and brain inflammation. Many studies have tested the effects of the two main bioactive constituents ginsenosides and gintonin on all these pathways. The experimental results showed that the anti-AD benefits of ginsenosides overlap with those of gintonin and both of them can inhibit the Aß information and reinforce the brain cholinergic system. Meanwhile, they may complement each other since one has some unique anticancer pathways while the other does not. A good case about this is that ginsenosides can attenuate oxidative stress while gintonin sees no this function.
Potential of Panax ginseng as an adjuvant treatment
Having realized the limited efficacy of conventional drugs and the superiority of combination therapy, researchers put forward that the combination of ginseng compounds with AD drugs may impose synergistic effect against AD. “A quantity of evidence has shown that two ginseng components, ginsenosides and gintonin exhibit anti-AD activities through diverse molecular mechanisms. And they can work together to alleviate cognitive dysfunction when combined with conventional AD drugs. Panax ginseng extract can be a potential anti-AD treatment,” concluded researcher Hyeon-Joong Kim.