Ginseng may prevent influenza
Posted on Apr 22 2014 | IANS
New York, April 22 : You took it to enhance your sexual performance. Now a promising research indicates that popular herbal medicine ginseng can treat and prevent against influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that infects the lungs and breathing passages.
In the study, Sang-Moo Kang from Georgia State University's institute for biomedical sciences investigated whether red ginseng extract has preventive effects on influenza A virus infection.
"We found that red ginseng extract improves the survival of human lung epithelial cells infected with influenza virus," Kang said.
Also, treatment with red ginseng extract reduced the expression of genes that cause inflammation.
Kang partnered with research institutes in South Korea to study ginseng's effect on respiratory diseases.
Ginseng has been reported to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory and immune modifying abilities and is widely believed to boost sexual performance.
After infection with influenza A virus, mice that were orally administered ginseng over a long time showed multiple immune modifying effects.
The study indicates the beneficial effects of red ginseng extract on preventing influenza A virus infections could result from immune modifying capabilities of ginseng.
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 Organisation.
The H1N1 influenza virus, a new strain known as swine flu that emerged in 2009, spread rapidly to more than 74 countries.
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.
The research has been published in the journal Nutrients.