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Effects of Ginseng on the Endocrine System


a. Effects on the pituitary gland and adrenal cortex: It is generally believed that ginseng itself does not have corticosteroid effects, but some people suggest that it can excite the adrenal cortex. Studies have shown that: ginseng has a stimulating effect on the pituitary-adrenal cortex system, and its active ingredient is ginsenoside. Various ginsenosides have different stimulating effects due to their different chemical structures. The action site of ginsenosides is above the level of the pituitary gland. Ginsenosides do not directly act on the biochemical process of secreting ACTH in the anterior pituitary gland, and its action must be realized through the second messenger cAMP.

Ginseng can hypertrophy the adrenal glands of normal and one-sided adrenal gland rats; reduce the content of 17-ketosteroids in guinea pig urine; increase eosinophils in rats, reduce vitamin C and cholesterol in the adrenal cortex, and increase ACTH in urine. Under stress conditions such as hypobaric and hypoxic conditions, ginseng can keep the vitamin C content in the adrenal glands of rats from decreasing. Ginseng can improve the ability of mice to tolerate high temperature and low temperature, but after removing the adrenal gland, this effect disappears.

A variety of ginsenosides in ginseng can increase the secretion of adrenal cortex hormones, among which ginsenoside Rb is the strongest. The α-receptor antagonist phentolamine, the β-receptor blocker propranolol, the nerve blocker hexadiamine and the hypnotic pentobarbital sodium intraperitoneal injection were all unable to antagonize the intraperitoneal injection of ginsenoside 7mg/ Increase in plasma corticosterone levels after 100 g for 30 minutes. Ginsenosides stimulate the adrenal cortex to increase the level of plasma corticosterone. Long-term administration of ginsenosides can increase the weight of adrenal glands in rats. Ginsenosides mainly act on the adrenal cortex to thicken the cortex. Due to the increased secretion of corticosteroids, the adrenal glands can also shrink the thymus while increasing the weight of the adrenal glands.

It has been reported that the mechanism by which ginsenosides stimulate the secretion of adrenocortical hormones is: ginsenosides stimulate the function of the adrenal cortex through the release of pituitary ACTH, and the stimulation of ACTH to the adrenal cortex must be realized through the second messenger cAMP. Experiments have shown that the increase of cAMP concentration in the adrenal gland is related to the dose of ginsenoside. Intraperitoneal injection of ginsenoside to rats, when the dose is above 5mg/kg, the concentration of cAMP in the adrenal glands of the animals in the administration group was significantly higher than that in the control group. At the same time, the concentration of 17-hydroxycorticosteroids in rat plasma also increased significantly, while the adrenal corticosteroids showed a decreasing trend, which may be the result of the release of corticosteroids into the blood. This further proves that after intraperitoneal injection of ginsenoside to rats, the change of ACTH in the plasma is parallel to the change of corticosterone.

It has been reported that the site of action of ginsenosides is on the pituitary gland or above the pituitary gland. For rats with pituitary gland removed, the effect of ginseng on ACTH in blood and cAMP content in adrenal gland does not exist. Panaxadiol and ginsenoside Rd can increase the level of adrenal cAMP in rats, but ginsenoside Rb2 and panaxatriol are ineffective. Hypophysectomy can relieve the effect of Rd and panaxadiol on the level of adrenal cAMP.

Ginseng has an antidiuretic effect on mice, and it is significantly weakened after castration, removal of the pituitary gland or adrenal gland. It is believed that ginseng acts on the posterior pituitary pathway. The antidiuretic effect of the 20% alcohol extract of ginseng roots and stems and leaves has an approximately proportional relationship with the dose. The antidiuretic effect is not lost when the pituitary or pineal gland is removed or the animal is anesthetized with pentobarbital sodium, but it can be a helicoid. Antagonized by esters, it can be considered that this effect is caused by promoting the secretion of mineralocorticoids from the adrenal cortex; it was also found that there was a significant increase in blood potassium before the antidiuretic effect appeared, and it is speculated that the increase in blood potassium may be the result of stimulating aldosterone secretion.

b. Effects on gonads: Experiments have proved that ginseng has gonadotropic effects and can stimulate the gonads of both male and female animals. After 6 to 7 weeks after birth, female mice were treated with Korean ginseng alcohol immersion solution, their mating period was prolonged, the resting period was shortened, the weight of uterus and ovary increased, and the luteinizing hormone increased; reappear. It has also been reported that ginseng alcohol extract can increase the weight of prostate and seminal vesicles in castrated rats. After using ginseng, the biosynthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid and protein in the testis increases, the number of sperm in the epididymis is large, and the activity is vigorous. Ginseng root saponins and ginseng stem and leaf saponins were injected intramuscularly at a dose of 30mg/kg, which can significantly increase the content of estradiol in the plasma of aging rats (over 24 months old). Ginseng fruit saponin 150mg/day, 2 months as a course of treatment, can significantly increase the level of testosterone in the plasma of male elderly patients, reduce the content of estradiol in the plasma, and reduce the ratio of estradiol/testosterone. Therefore, ginsenosides can have certain effects on many diseases related to estradiol/testosterone elevation.

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