Gut health

The effects of Ginseng and its bioactive constituents on Gut Health: Review of Ginseng's benefits for Inflammatory Balance and Microbiota modulation.

  • Introduction
  • Inflammatory Balance
  • Microbiota modulation
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliographic references

While Korean ginseng has been traditionally renown for its positive effects on brain function and mental stamina, recent research has unveiled another compelling aspect of this ancient panacea's therapeutic potential: gut health.

More specifically, ginseng and it's bioactive constituents (ginsenosides and polysaccharides) have been found to play a key role in immunomodulatory and microbiota-supporting activities - two functions considered instrumental in maintaining gut health, and overall well-being.

The modulation of inflammation is a critical aspect of gut health. Indeed, the gut is home to the highest proportion of immune cells in the body: the myriad of interactions it has with food, microbes and other environmental factors, make the gut the epicenter of immune balance. For the same reason, this organ is indirectly implicated in a wide range of health issues, especially those related to chronic inflammation.

Phytonutrients from medicinal plants provide a unique means of tackling gut inflammation. Among them, bioactive compounds from Panax ginseng have been identified as particularly interesting for their immunomodulatory activity and their beneficial effect on gut immune balance. And its primary mechanism of action to support immune homeostasis through promoting immunotolerance:

Multiple ginsenosides [1-2] including Rk3 [3], Rh4 [4] and Rd [5], have been shown to support Treg Lymphocytes and therefore improve immunotolerance. The inhibition of NFkB and NRLP3 reported for some of these ginsenosides [6-7] could partially be due to this effect.

This process is a key aspect of immunotolerance at the gut barrier level and it has a significant beneficial impact on chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. In addition, ginseng polysaccharides have also been identified as modulators of the Kynurenin / Tryptophan ratio [8], leading to an additional support of Treg cells and immunotolerance.

It should be noted that inflammation homeostasis at the gut barrier level is critical to ensure gut barrier integrity. Korean red ginseng could therefore represent an opportunity for new therapeutic pathways in the context of chronical colitis or the “leaky gut” syndrome [9-12].

Recent studies have shown that both ginsenosides and ginseng polysaccharides [13-15] support gut health through microbiota modulation, with many studies reporting the particularly beneficial effect of Rg3 [16-17], Rh4 [18], Rc [19], Rg1 [20], or Rb1 [21].

This influence on microbiota balance appears to have health benefits on a wide variety of issues [22-29], including metabolism dysfunction and the gut / brain axis. While the physiological process leading to microbiota homeostasis is yet to be understood, these findings emphasize the promising potential of adding bioactive constituents of Korean red ginseng in microbiotic formulas.

In summary, the nuanced relationship between ginsenosides, ginseng polysaccharides, and gut health is beginning to unfold, potentially offering new perspectives to the development of innovative therapeutic solutions for gut health.

By influencing inflammatory balance through promotion of immunotolerance, and supporting gut health through microbiota modulation, these components have shown promising potential in addressing prevalent gut-related health issues such as chronic colitis and 'leaky gut' syndrome.

While additional research is needed to understand its mechanisms, the role of ginseng's compounds in maintaining the gut's immune homeostasis and microbial harmony further accentuates their potential in the context of gut-brain axis and metabolic dysfunction.

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