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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ginseng and Alzheimer's disease

Posted by Chantel Martiromo 

Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder correlated with major reductions of neurons to the respective target areas and named after German physician Alois Alzheimer. Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, causing cognitive modalities severe enough to affect language communication, memory, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer's gets worse over time, and it is fatal. 
According to statistic, over 25 million people in the world today are affected by dementia and most are suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It may be results of  cigarette smoking, midlife high blood pressure and obesity, diabetes, and cerebrovascular lesions) and the possible beneficial roles of psychosocial factors (eg, high education, active social engagement, physical exercise, and mentally stimulating activity)(1) Strong evidences emerged in epidemiological studies suggested that certain herbs(2) may have potential in reduced risk and treatments of Alzheimer's disease but geographic source of the plant material, climatation, and time of harvest may effect their effectiveness. It is understandable that commercially available herbal medicinal products with the same herbal ingredients vary in their content and concentration of chemical constituents when compared between manufacturers.

Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, the genus Panax, belonging to the family Araliaceae. Depending to the climate where it grows, ginseng can be classified mainly into Panax ginseng Asian ginseng (root), Red ginseng, wild ginseng, American ginseng (root).
In an open-label study, conducted by Seoul National University Hospital, Ginseng improved ADAS and MMSE scores declined and may be considered as clinically effective in the cognitive performance of AD patients(7). Other study also showed the effect of KRG on cognitive functions which was sustained for 2 yr follow-up and may be an indication of  a feasible efficacy of long-term follow-up for Alzheimer's disease(9). Korean red ginseng (KRG) in high doses, significant improved on the ADAS and CDR after 12 weeks(8). Unfortunately, Study by the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, on Mini-Mental Status and the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS)-cognitive, showed inconclusive in the result of the efficacy of Ginseng(10).

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(1) Epidemiology of Alzheimer's disease: occurrence, determinants, and strategies toward intervention. by Qiu C, Kivipelto M, von Strauss E.(PubMed)
(2) The Use of Herbal Medicine in Alzheimer's Disease—A Systematic Review by Leopoldo Luiz dos Santos-Neto,1 Maria Alice de Vilhena Toledo,2 Patrícia Medeiros-Souza,3 and Gustavo Almeida de Souza(PubMed)
(7) Panax ginseng enhances cognitive performance in Alzheimer disease by Lee ST, Chu K, Sim JY, Heo JH, Kim M(PubMed)
(8) An open-label trial of Korean red ginseng as an adjuvant treatment for cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer's disease by Heo JH, Lee ST, Chu K, Oh MJ, Park HJ, Shim JY, Kim M.(PubMed)
(9) Improvement of cognitive deficit in Alzheimer's disease patients by long term treatment with korean red ginseng by Heo JH, Lee ST, Oh MJ, Park HJ, Shim JY, Chu K, Kim M(PubMed)
(10) Ginseng for cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease: a systematic review by Lee MS, Yang EJ, Kim JI, Ernst E(PubMed)

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