Herbal extracts, such as Korean ginseng
extract, are more and more used as medicines but frequently scientific evidence is missing about the therapeutic efficiency. Many plants contain phytochemicals which have cancer chemopreventive action. At the Radiation and Cancer Biology Laboratory following plant extracts have been show to have chemopreventive action against dimethylbenz(a)anthracene and croton oil induced skin cancer: Ocimum, Spirulina, Brassica, Mentha and ginseng. Studies have identified many phytochemicals in ginseng with medicinal action: ginsenosides, flavonoids, phytosterols and phenolics compounds. Well-known pharmacological properties of Korean ginseng are anti-fatigue, anti-stress and adaptogenic effects. This in vivo experiment studied the chemopreventive action of a Korean ginseng extract (EFLA400) on mice. Chemopreventive action is the blocking, inhibition or reverse of the development of cancer. This specific ginseng extract contained extracts form Korean ginseng and hawthorn berries. Hawthorn extract was added to convert the natural ginsenosides of Korean ginseng in a more active forms of ginsenosides.
The mice were divided in 4 groups:
- Group 1: control group, no benzo(a)pyrene (BP) or Korean ginseng extract
- Group 2: only administration of Korean ginseng extract
- Group 3: only treated with BP
- Group 4: treated with Korean ginseng extract and BP.
Lung adenomas were induced with injection of benzo(a)pyrene. Lung weight, number of adenomas in the lungs, tumor multiplicity, and chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei inductions in the bone marrow cells were determined. The researchers found that the oral administration of Korean ginseng (group 4) extract caused a significant reduction in the number of lung adenomas and tumor multiplicity as compared to group 3. The group treated with Korean ginseng also showed reduced frequencies of chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei inductions.
Many studies link Korean ginseng with carcinogenesis. Certain ginsenosides have cytotoxic or cytostatic activity against tumor cells. These ginsenosides may act by inducing cell apoptosis. Ginsenosides Rg3 have been found to inhibit tumor cell invasion in vitro. Saponins in Korean ginseng have been demonstrated to have antimetastatic activity. Epidemiological studies have shown that intake of ginseng is associated with lower rates of cancers.
The study concluded that the Korean Ginseng extract ELFA400 has chemopreventive action and antimutagenic effect in mice.Source: Panwar M, Samarth R, Kumar M, Yoon WJ, Kumar A.. Inhibition of benzo(a)pyrene induced lung adenoma by panax ginseng extract, EFLA400, in Swiss albino mice.. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Nov;28(11):2063-7