American ginseng is a perennial plant that is native to North America and grows naturally in mature forests throughout much of the eastern United States, from New England and Minnesota to Louisiana and Georgia. In Canada, the species is found in Ontario and Quebec (CHARRON & GAGNON, 1991).
Shamans have used this herb in traditional medicine since time immemorial and the Chinese have valued its multiple beneficial effects for centuries.
although very similar to Asian ginseng, American ginseng has its own specific action. Its effects are mediated by ginseng-specific components called ginsenosides, which are glycosidic compounds. The biological effectiveness of ginsenosides varies depending on their structure. Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng contain different levels of ginsenosides (ASSINEWE & al, 2003), with Rb1, Re, Rg1, Rc and Rd accounting for more than 70% of the total ginsenoside content in American ginseng (CHEN & al, 2008).
In addition, ginseng is known to contain other active ingredients such as acidic polysaccharides and phenolic compounds (CHO & al, 2013).
American ginseng exerts an antioxidant action by increasing superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase activities (KIM & al, 2007 ; KIM & al, 2019).
It acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the transcription factor NF-κB (LI & al, 2010) and can prevent and treat intestinal inflammation in mice by driving inflammatory cell apoptosis in a p53-dependent manner (JIN & al, 2010).
Both Asian and American ginseng have neuroprotective and stimulating effects and are specific brain antioxidants (GONZÁLEZ-BURGOS & al, 2015).
American ginseng is an adaptogenic plant, helping to enhance physical performance, build vitality, increase resistance to stress and improve memory and concentration (SCHOLEY & al, 2010 ; OSSOUKHOVA & al, 2015). It increases swimming time before exhaustion in forced swim tests. Reduced lactate and urea and increased SOD and glutathione peroxidase levels have been observed during exercise (WANG & al, 2010 ; QI & al, 2011).
Its effects are distinct from those of Asian ginseng and suggest that the psychopharmacological properties depend on the plants’ different ginsenoside profiles (SCHOLEY & al, 2010). For example, some ginsenosides have been reported to exert effects on the cholinergic system; Rb1 both stimulates acetylcholine release and increases synaptosomal choline uptake. Accordingly, the ability of Rb1 to prevent memory deficits may be related to facilitation of acetylcholine metabolism in the central nervous system (BENISHIN & al, 1991 ; BENISHIN, 1992).
American ginseng is known to be effective in reducing fatigue, improving immunity and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels (ATTELE & al, 1999 ; WU & ZHONG, 1999 ; LEE & al, 2000).
Its use is recommended to treat fatigue in the chronically ill, such as cancer patients (BARTON & al, 2013 ; ARRING & al, 2018).
American ginseng has antimicrobial activity against bacteria and fungi. It operates by weakening the infection ability of microbes and stimulating the host immune system (WANG & al, 2020). In particular, it exerts cytokine-stimulating activity on macrophages (ASSINEWE & al, 2002 ; AZIKE & al, 2015).
American ginseng also reduces tumour growth by inducing apoptosis, inhibiting angiogenesis and blocking COX-2 expression (PERALTA & al, 2009 ; QI & al, 2010).
American ginseng has significant glucose-lowering effects in rodents (MARTINEZ & STABA, 1984 ; OSHIMA & al, 1987). In humans, it also reduces post-prandial glycaemia in both healthy and diabetic individuals (VUKSAN & al, 2000 ; VUKSAN & al, 2001).
American ginseng is a powerful ally in maintaining a healthy nervous system!