Immunomodula Tion

Siberian ginseng appears to exert an immunomodulatory rather than just an immunosuppressive or stimulating action; however, evidence for the immune enhancing effects of Siberian ginseng is contradictory. Clinical studies in vitro and in vivo have revealed stimulation of general non-specific resistance and an influence on T-lymphocytes, NK cells and cytokines (Bohn et al 1987, Schmolz et al 2001), although other studies suggest that Siberian ginseng does not significantly stimulate the innate macrophage immune functions that influence cellular immune responses (Wang et al 2003). Alternatively, another in vitro study has demonstrated that activation of macrophages and NK cells does occur and may be responsible for inhibiting tumor metastasis both prophylactically and therapeutically (Yoon et al 2004).

The main constituents responsible appear to be lignans (seamin, syringin) and polysaccharides such as glycans, which demonstrate immunostimulant effects in vitro (Davydov & Krikorian 2000, Wagner et al 1984). Additionally, effects on the HPA axis will influence immune responses.

It has been suggested that eleutheroside E may be responsible for the improved recovery from reduced NK activity and the inhibition of corticosterone elevation induced by forced swimming in mice (Kimura & Sumiyoshi 2004) and may contribute to the antifatigue action.

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