Weekly Update: the Panax Ginseng Edition

Written by Kamal Patel
Last Updated:

There are three updates this week which can probably be seen as minor, moderate, and major: Caralluma Fimbriata, Feverfew, and Panax Ginseng respectively.

Caralluma Fimbriata is merely a vegetable that is touted as a 'famine food' able to suppress the appetite. It appears to do so in animal models and the one human study tested, but there are some methodological problems with the one study (it was terminated at the time point where, in animal studies, it should have started to show most significant effects). Replication of the human test for longer periods would be nice, but Caralluma Fimbriata appears to be a promising appetite suppressant with mechanisms similar to Hoodia.

Feverfew is an anti-migraine medication which does appear to be better than placebo at preventing the onset of and severity of migraines (which is pretty nice, since placebo itself can do a lot of anti-migraine effects). One study suggests reduced length of migraines, but most studies don't look at the length of an individual migraine. One also notes less sensitivity to stimuli such as light and sound. Only problem with these studies is that they are confounded at times with other nutrients like ginger or white willow (which, theoretically, should be synergistic; just unproven).

Feverfew also appears to have very nice anti-cancer mechanisms and is a potent anti-inflammatory, although human studies on these two claims are lacking. One promising in vitro study noted that Feverfew was actually able to reduce inflammatory cytokine secretion in macrophages (a test of how 'anti-inflammatory' a compound is) to below control despite being stimulated with pro-inflammatory LPS. Quite a potent result.

The last update, Panax Ginseng, is quite interesting. In regards to performance and cognition, it seems to work mostly through fatigue reduction (so it gives a false-positive of having a plethora of benefits, which these benefits are all rooted from one common cause). It does not appear to boost testosterone in healthy males, and its 'pro-estrogenic' effects seem to be beneficial when there is no estrogen circulating (menopause) but the effects in healthy people and young males are not clear.

It appears to both stimulate and modulate the immune system, depending on context, and with a potency that appears to be just slightly lesser than Ganoderma Lucidum (which, to be compared with, is quite impressive). One study in humans with vaccines did note that ginseng was able to augment the efficacy of the flu vaccine; a remarkable study to be done in a nutraceutical.

Lots of studies done on erections, but they have less than optimal methodological quality. Many studies were done on glucose control, and although a 10% drop in blood glucose 1 hour after 200mg panax ginseng seems to be quite reliable, there is no convincing evidence that Panax Ginseng can aid the state of diabetes (no evidence to refute either, just no convincing evidence; a sort of 'dead zone' in human tests although animal tests look promising)

Probably most relevant to many people's interests is the beginning section which disambiguates all this 'true ginseng' and 'not true ginseng' and 'ginseng family' stuff, and differentiates between the botanical terms of Panax and Ginseng with the social usage of 'Ginseng' which is applied to seemingly irrelevant plants.

Finally, a few interesting studies on how oral Panax Ginseng can aid hearing (I believe secondary to anti-inflammation, as Aspirin has also been associated with this) and how it is a fairly nice 'beauticeutical' for hair, although it seems to only prevent declines in skin quality rather than enhance it. The one study suggesting Panax reduces wrinkles had two other compounds used.