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Differential Vascular Effects of Panax Ginseng and Panax Quinquefolius Extracts

Contact Person: C. Y. Kwan (kwancy@fhs.mcmaster.ca)


Ginseng plants, as an effective tonic herbal medicine, have been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for the past 20 centuries to enhance stamina and to recuperate from physical stress, particularly when the physical capacity is compromised. Ginseng is also cultivated and produced in the North America (US and Canada). However, the native ginseng plants grown in the Orient and the North America are of different species, Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius, respectively. According to the practice of Chinese herbal medicinal, Panax ginseng, being of “warm” nature, is generally recommended for enhanced circulation in individuals with yang-difficiency. Panax quinquefolius, on the other hand, being regarded as “cool” herb, should only be moderately used for individuals with yin-deficiency. Another widely used ginseng species in China, Panax notoginseng, is grown in the southwestern provinces of China. It is topically used as an ointment preparation to improve the microcirculation in the muscle and to dissipate muscular bruises due to sport injuries.

Scientific studies of the chemical constituents and pharmacological properties of ginseng suggest that a group of distinct glycosides referred to as ginseng saponins or ginsenosides, represents the major active ingredients with various pharmacological actions and biological effects (Tanaka et al. 1986). The ginsenoside content also depends on the species of ginseng as well as the age and part of the ginseng plants used (Soldati and Sticher 1980, Liberti and Marderosian 1978).

The total saponin extract isolated from Panax ginseng has been shown to cause vasorelaxation in some vascular segments, but vasoconstriction in others (Chen et al. 1984). The total saponin extract of Panax notoginseng (PNS) has also been repeatedly shown to exert in vitro vasodilatory action in rabbit aorta (Guan et al. 1985), dog mesenteric artery (Guan et al. 1988) and dog sephenous vein (Guan et al. 1994). However, the total saponin extract from Panax quiquefolius roots (PQS) was shown to cause enhancement of PE-induced contraction (Kwan et al., 1995). The purpose of this communication is to report the differential effects of two commercial extracts Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius on the in vitro vascular contractility.

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Kwan, CY; (1998). Differential Vascular Effects of Panax Ginseng and Panax Quinquefolius Extracts. Presented at INABIS '98 - 5th Internet World Congress on Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, Canada, Dec 7-16th. Invited Symposium. Available at URL http://www.mcmaster.ca/inabis98/kwan/kwan0249/index.html
© 1998 Author(s) Hold Copyright