Acupuncture Continuing Education

Ginseng Fights Rheumatoid Arthritis

New research has discovered that several ginsenosides, biologically active compounds found in the herb ginseng, have strong anti-inflammatory effects. The research demonstrates that ginsenosides can reduce inflammation in septic shock, rheumatoid arthritis, and dermatitis including psoriasis. In the laboratory, researchers have applied this knowledge by creating a new ginsenoside called G-Rp1. This ginsenoside, made from the ginsenosides G-Rg5 and G-Rk1 found in ginseng root, exhibits an even stronger anti-inflammatory effect than naturally occuring ginsenosides. Further, all of the aforementioned ginsenosides have important immunosuppressive effects in fighting autoimmune diseases.

The immune system response defends the body from pathogens such as toxic materials, microorganisms, and viruses. Inflammation is the first step towards eliminating these pathogens created by the immune system response. One important chemical created by the immune system response is TNF-alpha.  It creates redness, pain, and swelling to help fight off invading pathogens. However, unregulated excess TNF-alpha in the bloodstream leads to excess inflammation, auto-immune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.

Excessive TNF-alpha causes damage to normal cells and stimulates the production of other inflammatory chemicals thereby creating an unhealthy and destructive cycle of inflammation. The research proves that G-Rp1, G-Rg5, and G-Rk1 have powerful therapeutic effects in fighting psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The research also suggests that G-Rb1 can be developed into a new drug to alleviate arthritis. Other ginsenosides also had anti-inflammatory effects including G-Rg3, G-Rf, and G-Rh2. Also, G-Rp1 showed a powerful ability to reduce edema in the joints. The researchers Jongsun Park and Jae Youl Cho note, “These results suggest that G-Rb1 can be regarded as the most potent medication currently available for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.”

An important note, do not take ginseng without first consulting your licensed acupuncturist to determine whether or not it is appropriate. There are many forms of ginseng, each of which apply in differing circumstances.