How Does Ginseng Promote Brain Health

Published: 21st March 2011
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Whether you are part of the burgeoning population of aging baby boomers, a stressed out professional, a frazzled parent, in a neo-natal stage of development or a student, brain health and cognitive function are vital aspects of your mental health and wellbeing. And as neurodegenerative health concerns take a more prominent position in our society, the popularity of supplements that can nutritionally support healthy brain functions, circulation, moods, and mental acuity has been steadily increasing over the years.

Brain Fitness – a High Priority
Particularly amongst the aging population, brain health is becoming a subject of special interest. As life spans increase, the desire to maintain healthy and independent lifestyles becomes a high priority. Spurred by this aging population looking for natural herbs and botanical derivatives (corroborated by science) to meet its diverse health needs, the herbal supplement industry today is booming. A recent report by Global Industry Analysts (a market research company based in California) predicts the thriving global herbal supplement market to reach $93.15 billion by 2015.1

Natural and herbal supplements are becoming the preferred choice of more and more consumers. Packaged Facts (a leading provider of market research based in Maryland), reporting on the dietary supplement industry in the United States, records the growth of this industry at 26 percent from 2005 to 2009. This growth includes a variety of condition-specific products that support a range of age-related health issues, brain health being one of the key concerns. Last year, the Nutrition Business Journal (a research, publishing and consulting company based in Colorado) listed brain boosters as one of the would-be top ten superstar ingredients of 2010.2-3

One herb in particular shows potential as a star ingredient in supporting brain health and protecting cognitive function. Ginseng, botanically known as Panax quinquefolius, has been frequently used in dietary supplements as an ingredient known to promote energy and support the immune system. The Chinese have been using it for centuries to support brain health and constrain the damaging effects of certain types of strokes that affect the brain. Recent studies have shown that it may play a role in initiating neurogenesis (birth of new neurons), raising hopes that one day its supplementation may offer protection against neurological disorders common to society today.

Ginseng may have neuroprotective properties
Talk about ginseng’s benefits for supporting healthy brain functions began in 1995 when studies showed that purified ginseng extract, rich in ginsenosides, was able to boost memory functions in patients who suffered from stroke-induced dementia. Scientists isolated the active protein component, Ginsenoside Rb1 (GRb1), proposed to have neuroprotective properties. Subsequently, in a 2005 study recorded in the Annals of Neurology, scientists concluded "A partial purification of whole ginseng to concentrate the neuroprotective components may have utility as a neuroprotective agent."4-5

A more recent study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology assessed the effect of GRb1 on rats with experimental cerebral ischemia. They found that the group of rats infused with GRb1 showed a considerable increase in the number of neural stem cells against those rats which were not infused with GRb1.6

The mechanism
Scientists believe that GRb1 has an effect on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that protects the survival of existing neurons. It also encourages the growth and differentiation of new neurons in the brain. Another protein called capase-3 has been linked with apoptosis (cell death). High levels of capase-3 are seen in the brain after unusual cardiovascular events, such as a stroke. By observing expressions of BDNF and caspase-3 and neurogenesis, scientists were able to study the mechanism of GRb1 neuroprotection in rats with experimental cerebral ischemia.

Post-stroke GRb1 infusion was seen to substantially reduce levels of capase-3 compared to control rats. The results led scientists to conclude that GRb1-induced neuroprotection against cerebral ischemia may involve regulation of the expressions of BDNF and caspase-3. The study indicates that GRb1 infusion may inhibit capase-3 activity and increase BDNF expression after stroke. Although the underlying mechanism is still not absolutely clear, the increase in BDNF seen with GRb1 treatment may offer a plausible explanation for neurological functional recovery after stroke.

These results offer more suggestive evidence that GRb1 may promote neurogenesis of neural precursor cells after a cerebral ischemic stroke. They also raise hopes of the possibility of GRb1 becoming a potential treatment for other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Supplement Manufacturing High-Quality Ginseng
Supplement companies can meet the growing cognitive health needs of their specific target market by enhancing their product line with a custom-formulated brain health supplement. This is where Nutricap Labs, a leading nutritional supplement manufacturer, can help you custom-design a high-quality brain formula that contains ginseng along with other well-researched ingredients known to promote and support healthy brain functions. Delivery systems for brain health supplements include tablets, gels and capsules.

Manufacturing done within a GMP-certified facility under rigorous manufacturing processes and controls, assures you of a high-quality product. Using customizable manufacturing solutions right from designing a custom formula to logo, label design, packaging to storage and order fulfillment can save you time, money and resources. If you’re ready with your requirements, request for a free quote or call (800) 494-6154 to learn more about their supplement manufacturing services.

  1. What Will Be the Superstar Ingredients of 2010? Nutrition Business Journal,
  2. Nutritional Supplements in the U.S., 4th Edition,
  3. Herbal Supplements and Remedies: A Global Strategic Business Report, Global Industry Analysts, Inc.,
  4. Ginseng may improve memory in stroke dementia patients, American Stroke Association 28th International Stroke Conference, abstract P327.
  5. Protective effects of ginseng components in a rodent model of neurodegeneration, Annals of Neurology (vol 57, pp642-648).
  6. Ginsenoside Rb1 regulates the expressions of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and caspase-3 and induces neurogenesis in rats with experimental cerebral ischemia, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 132, Issue 2, Pages 393-39, doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.07.033

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