This section was compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C. Send all comments or additions to:Frankp@chiro.org
If there are terms in these articles you don't understand, you can get a definition from the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary. If you want information about a specific disease, you can access the Merck Manual. You can also search Pub Med for more abstracts on this, or any other health topic.
Adaptogenic Herbs: Nature's Solution To Stress
An adaptogenic substance is one that demonstrates a nonspecific enhancement of the body's ability to resist a stressor. The term was first introduced in 1947 by Russian scientist N.V. Lazarev to describe the unique action of a material claimed to increase nonspecific resistance of an organism to an adverse influence. In 1958, I.I. Brekhman, a Russian holistic medical doctor, and his colleague I.V. Dardymov, established the following definition of an adaptogen: It "must be innocuous and cause minimal disorders in the physiological functions of an organism, it must have a nonspecific action, and it usually has a normalizing action irrespective of the direction of the pathological state." 
If Pregnant, Be Cautious About Ginseng
Ginseng, one of the most frequently used herbal supplements in America, is often touted for its health-promoting qualities. It increases stamina, improves stress tolerance, helps treat mild diabetes, and wards off certain infections. But if you're pregnant, you may be wise to avoid the beneficial herb, according to a new study published in the medical journal Human Reproduction (2003, vol. 18, no. 10).
Ginseng Helps Regulate Blood Glucose
Practitioners of Eastern medicine have long revered ginseng (Panax spp.) as an effective treatment for numerous health conditions. Western researchers are beginning to unravel the specific benefits of the herb, including new findings that show American ginseng (P. quinquefolius) to be an effective blood-glucose modulator. Researchers have suggested that ginseng exhibits a hypoglycemic effect in animals, 1,2 and new human trials are validating the claim.
Antioxidant Effects of Panax Ginseng in Healthy Subjects:
A Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial
Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 (Sep); 49 (9): 2229–2235
This study investigated the antioxidant effects of panax ginseng in healthy adults. The randomized, placebo-controlled trial included 82 participants who were randomly divided into one of three groups. One group received 1 gram per day of panax ginseng, the second group received 2 grams of panax ginseng per day and the third group received placebo for a total of four weeks. Researchers measured levels of antioxidant defense mechanisms in all of the participants. The results revealed that panax ginseng was shown to have antioxidant properties that helped improve antioxidant defense mechanisms in healthy adults.
Panax Ginseng Monograph
Alternative Medicine Review 2009 (Jun); 14 (2): 172–176 ~ FULL TEXT Panax ginseng, used medicinally for thousands of years in China, Korea, and Japan, is well known as an adaptogen and a restorative tonic that is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Westerrn herbal preparations. Eclectic uses for Panax ginseng include fatigue, infertility, liver disease, amnesia, colds, menopause, and erectile dysfunction.
Cancer Prevention and Therapeutics: Panax Ginseng
Alternative Medicine Review 2004 (Sep); 9 (3): 259–274 ~ FULL TEXT
Panax ginseng has been used as a medicinal plant in China for thousands of years. Current use in Western countries has been diverse, with focused research on cancer therapeutics. P. ginseng apparently mitigates cancer through anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and apoptotic mechanisms to influence gene expression. Additional mechanisms of investigation include influence on neurotransmission and immunosurveillance. Low toxicity and positive studies in concomitant use with other chemotherapeutic agents is promising. Although there is no conclusive evidence of P. ginseng curing cancer, research has continually found tumor inhibition, especially in the promotion and progression phases.
Preventive Effect of Ginseng Intake Against Various Human Cancers:
A Case-Control Study on 1987 Pairs
Cancer Epiderniol Biomarkers Prev 1995 (Jun); 4 (4): 401–408
In cancers of the female breast, uterine cervix, urinary bladder, and thyroid gland, however, there was no association with ginseng intake. In cancers of the lung, lip, oral cavity and pharynx, and liver, smokers with ginseng intake showed decreased odds ratios compared with smokers without ginseng intake. These findings support the view that ginseng intakers had a decreased risk for most cancers compared with nonintakers.
Ginseng Therapy in Non–Insulin–Dependent Diabetic Patients
Diabetes Care 1995 (Oct); 18 (10): 1373–1375
Ginseng therapy elevated mood, improved psychophysical performance, and reduced fasting blood glucose (FBG) and body weight. The 200-mg dose of ginseng improved glycated hemoglobin, serum PIIINP, and physical activity. Placebo reduced body weight and altered the serum lipid profile but did not alter FBG.
Efficacy and Safety of the Standardized Ginseng Extract G 115 for Potentiating Vaccination Against Common Cold and/or Influenza Syndrome
Drugs Exp Clin Res 1996; 22 (2): 65–72
As a result, while the frequency of influenza or common cold between weeks 4 and 12 was 42 cases in the placebo group, it was only 15 cases in the G115 group, the difference being statistically highly significant (p < 0.001). Whereas antibody titres by week 8 rose to an average of 171 units in the placebo group, they rose to an average of 272 units in the G115 group (p < 0.0001). Natural killer (NK) activity levels at weeks 8 and 12 were nearly twice as high in the G115 group as compared to the placebo group (p < 0.0001).
A Double–Masked Study of the Effects of Ginseng on Cognitive Functions
Current Therapeutic Research 1996; 57 (12): 959–968
The ginseng group showed a tendency to faster simple reactions and significantly better abstract thinking than the controls. However, there was no significant difference between the two groups in concentration, memory, or subjective experience.
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