According to the results of a new study, the herb ginseng—which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia—may be a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
The news comes from the University of Hong Kong where scientists isolated seven ginseng compounds, called ginsenosides, which they say show strong immune-suppressive effects.
Using human immune cells, which they treated with extracts of ginseng, they discovered the seven ginsenosides had the ability to selectively inhibit expression of the inflammatory gene CXCL-10.
Allan Lau, lead researcher on the team, says the beneficial effects of ginseng may result from the combined effects of ginsenosides which appear to target different levels of immunological activity.
However, he added that "further studies will be needed to examine the potential beneficial effects of [the herb] in the management of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases in humans."
Ginseng is a perennial fleshy plant native to cooler climates of eastern Asia, including northern China, Korea and eastern Siberia. Extracts and nutritional supplements containing ginseng are available in many health stores across the U.S.