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Wei Zhou, Hong Chai, Peter H. Lin, Alan B. Lumsden, Qizhi Yao, Changyi Chen
Med Sci Monit 2004; 10(8): RA187-192
Ginseng root is used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine for its alleged tonic effect and possible curative and restorative properties. There are increasing evidences in the literature on the potential role of ginseng in treating cardiovascular diseases. We herein examine the history of ginseng usage and review the current literature on a myriad pharmacological function of ginseng on the cardiovascular system. From the published studies involving cell cultures and animal models, ginseng is shown to have potential benefits on the cardiovascular system through diverse mechanisms, including antioxidant, modifying vasomotor function, reducing platelet adhesion, influencing ion channels, altering autonomic neurotransmitters release, improving lipid profiles, and involving in glucose metabolism and glycemic control. In addition, the relevant clinical trials regarding the effects of ginseng on the cardiovascular disease are summarized, particularly in managing hypertension and improving cardiovascular function. Finally, the controversies in the literature and the possible adverse interactions between ginseng and other drugs are discussed. This review underscores the potential benefit effects of ginseng on cardiovascular diseases, highlights the gaps in our current research, and emphasizes the necessity for more rigorous systemic investigation.