Ginseng can treat and prevent influenza and RSV, researcher finds

April 21, 2014

Ginseng can help treat and prevent influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages, according to research findings by a scientist in Georgia State University's new Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

In a recent issue of Nutrients and an upcoming publication of the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, Sang-Moo Kang reports the beneficial effects of ginseng, a well-known herbal medicine, on human health.

Kang's primary research focuses on designing and developing effective vaccines against viral diseases such as virus and RSV, but he partnered with a university and research institutes in South Korea that wanted international collaborative projects to study if ginseng can be used to improve health and protect against disease because of the potential benefit in fighting these viruses. Ginseng has been reported to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory and immune modifying abilities.

Seasonal influenza is a serious respiratory disease that causes annual epidemics in humans worldwide, resulting in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Influenza can spread quickly, and new, unexpected pandemic influenza viruses may emerge at any time and cross over to different species. The H1N1 influenza virus, a new strain known as swine flu that emerged in 2009, spread rapidly to more than 74 countries. There are also challenges with existing , such as required annual updates and no protection against pandemic strains and bird flu.

In addition, there are no vaccines available for RSV, which affects millions and is the leading cause of inflammatory bronchiolitis pneumonia and viral death in infants and in some elderly adults.

In his study published in Nutrients, Kang investigated whether red ginseng extract has preventive effects on influenza A virus infection. He found that red ginseng extract improves the survival of human lung epithelial cells infected with . Also, treatment with red ginseng extract reduced the expression of genes that cause inflammation.

After infection with influenza A virus, mice that were orally administered ginseng over a long time showed multiple immune modifying effects, such as stimulated antiviral production of proteins important in immune response and fewer inflammatory cells in their bronchial walls. The study indicates the beneficial effects of red ginseng extract on preventing influenza A virus infections could result from immune modifying capabilities of ginseng.

In his upcoming publication in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, Kang investigated whether Korean red ginseng extract has antiviral effects, or the ability to treat RSV infection. Kang found Korean red ginseng extract improved the survival of human lung epithelial cells against RSV infection and inhibited the virus from replicating, or multiplying, in the body. In addition, treatment with Korean red ginseng extract suppressed the expression of RSV-induced inflammatory genes and the formation of chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen, which play a role in virus-induced epithelial damage in RSV.

Also, mice that were orally administered Korean red ginseng extract had lower viral levels after infection with RSV. The results suggest that Korean red ginseng extract has antiviral activity against RSV infection.

Kang has further demonstrated ginseng's on influenza and RSV in previously published studies.

Explore further: Researchers find new method to combat common childhood illness

Related Stories

Researchers find new method to combat common childhood illness

April 18, 2014
Almost all children are infected with respiratory syncytial virus by the time they are two. Most recover quickly from cold-like symptoms. But for others, RSV can cause serious lung infections, such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia, ...

Antiviral lipid earns patent: Lipids in lung can inhibit RSV and influenza infections

March 5, 2013
Dennis Voelker, PhD, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health, has been awarded a U.S. patent (#8,367,643) for various lipids and related compounds that can inhibit inflammation and infection in the lungs, especially ...

Researchers find that influenza has an Achilles' heel

April 10, 2014
Flu epidemics cause up to half a million deaths worldwide each year, and emerging strains continually threaten to spread to humans and cause even deadlier pandemics. A study published by Cell Press on April 10 in the journal ...

Researchers find genetic trigger for RSV-induced infant hospitalizations

April 8, 2014
Researchers at UNC School of Medicine have pinpointed a viral protein that plays a major role in making respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) the most common cause of hospitalization in children under one year of age.

Molecular dissection of respiratory syncytial virus infection

November 12, 2013
A study published this week in PLOS Medicine reveals profound systemic dysregulation of the immune response induced by RSV infection in young children and suggest that molecular markers might be able to predict disease severity.

Lipid blocks influenza infection

November 9, 2011
A natural lipid in the fluid lining the lungs inhibits influenza infections in both cell cultures and mouse models, according to researchers at National Jewish Health. These findings, combined with previous studies demonstrating ...

Recommended for you

Male hepatitis B patients suffer worse liver ailments, regardless of lifestyle

July 25, 2017
Why men with hepatitis B remain more than twice as likely to develop severe liver disease than women remains a mystery, even after a study led by a recent Drexel University graduate took lifestyle choices and environments ...

Mind-body therapies immediately reduce unmanageable pain in hospital patients

July 25, 2017
Mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion significantly reduced acute pain experienced by hospital patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

Raccoon roundworm—a hidden human parasite?

July 24, 2017
The raccoon that topples your trashcan and pillages your garden may leave more than just a mess. More likely than not, it also contaminates your yard with parasites—most notably, raccoon roundworms (Baylisascaris procyonis).

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BobSage
2 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2014
As usual, I would love to see some statistics as to the degree of protection offered. If it is of practical significance, then that should be made clear in the article.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.