Panax Ginseng Improves Immune Function

Panax ginseng (the root of Panax ginseng Meyer, Family Araliaceae) is an herb that grows in Korea and northern China. The active ingredients that trigger the medicinal effects of panax ginseng are called ginsenosides. Ginseng root is standardized on content of ginsenosides. Extracts usually contain from 4% to 7% ginsenosides. Some researches report that panax ginseng may boost the immune system, improve the effectiveness of antibiotic drugs in individuals with acute bronchitis, and improve the body’s response to flu vaccines.

Panax Ginseng Benefits and Immune System

Panax ginseng (Korean Red Ginseng) has been well known as an immunomodulator. Ginseng acts on the immune system by producing higher activity levels of natural killer cells, increasing total lymphocyte count and raising levels of T-helper cells. In vitro studies reveal enhanced natural killer cell activity and increased immune cell phagocytosis after ginsenoside exposure. A clinical trial in 60 healthy participants demonstrated enhanced chemotaxis, phagocytosis, increased total lymphocyte count, and increased numbers of  T helper cells in those who received ginseng extract in a dosage of 100 mg twice daily for 8 weeks. Natural Killer Cells are a type of cytotoxic lymphocytes of innate  immune system that are involved in the first line of defense against newly arising malignant cells and infected  cells. Korean Red Ginseng contains a polysaccharide called ginsan that stimulates natural killer cell activity, according to a study  reported in the Aug t 2011 edition of the journal Immunology Letters. Researchers have found that a combination of echinacea and ginseng increases the activity of natural killer cells, an substantial immune system component, in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Panax GinsengWhen given in combination with 6-MFA, an interferon inducing antiviral agent, panax ginseng was found to preserve 82-100 percent of mice infected with semliki forest virus (SFV). Panax ginseng enhances the number of immune cells in the blood, thus helping the immune system fight illnesses such as the flu. In a study reported in 2004 in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, scientists found that participants who took a ginseng had a lower incidence of acute respiratory illness than the control group. In a study of 75 participants with acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis who were treated with antibiotics or antibiotics plus panax ginseng, those in the panax ginseng group demonstrated faster bacterial clearance.

There is some findings that taking G115 (a specific panax ginseng extract) by mouth 4 weeks before a flu shot and continued for 8 more weeks can reduce the risk of getting the flu. When administered as the G115 in a 100mg dose to humans, it appears that G115 has the ability to reduce the occurrence of the flu when G115 is taken for twelve weeks and the vaccination is applied at week four. In a study using the polysaccharide of Panax Ginseng (Ginsan) in isolation, 100mg/kg injection once a day for 2 days prior to infection with an antigen resulted in appreciably higher levels of IgG1 and IgG2, as well as secretory IgA when compared to mice who did not receive Ginsan before infection. A study of 227 healthy participants showed that daily administration of 100 mg standardized Panax ginseng extract, for 12 weeks enhanced the efficacy of polyvalent influenza vaccine. The people who received panax ginseng had a lower incidence of colds and influenza, higher antibody titers, and higher natural killer cell activity levels.

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 is a virus that causes AIDS, a condition in which the immune system fails due to the destruction of CD4+ helper T cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. The immune system may  benefit from panax ginseng, especially the cell-mediated immune system, which is damaged in HIV infection. A test-tube study involving cells from HIV-positive individuals showed that ginseng might stimulate the production and function of immune cells. In a study found that steamed then dried panax ginseng had favorable effects in individuals infected with HIV, and increased the effectiveness of the anti-HIV medication, AZT. Cho YK, Lee, Oh and Kim report on a study comparing 5.4 g of panax ginseng daily on 16 HIV+ patients versus 10 people who took no anti-HIV drugs for 3 – 4 years. In the group using this form of  Korean Red Ginseng, the average CD4 count increased from baseline of 301 to 359. In the control group, the baseline CD4 count of 352 decreased to 156. Researchers concluded that “Korean Red Ginseng has definite long-term immune modulating effect without adverse effects on HIV-infected patients”.

A study reported in Aug 2009 in the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, indicates that panax ginseng may have favorable effects against HIV when combined with HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy). HIV-1 (Human immunodeciency virus type 1) is a virus that causes AIDS, a condition in which the immune system fails due to the destruction of  CD4+ helper T cells macrophages, and dendritic cells. Owing to the introduction of  highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and the improvement of many anti-retroviral medications the rates of mortality and morbidity related to HIV-1 disease have lessen significantly. But, anti-retroviral drug-resistant mutants are incessantly occurring and limit the availability of effective medications. Korean red ginseng has been shown to exert favorable effects on HAART by maintaining CD4+ T cell counts and delaying the development of resistance mutations in HIV-1 patients treated with HAART.

Antiviral Effects of Bitter Melon

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is cultivated in Asia, Africa and South America. It has biologically active substances which have been shown to exhibit antiviral effect.

Bitter Melon and Herpes Cure

Herpes is an infection that is caused by a herpes simplex virus. This virus usually causes infections of the skin and mucous membranes. Sometimes it can cause more important infections in other parts of the body. HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus 1) is the main cause of herpes infections that occur on the mouth and lips. HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus 2) is the main cause of genital herpes. Bitter melon extract has been shown to possess strong antiviral activities stimulate the immune system and activate the body’s natural killer cells to help fight off viruses such as herpes simplex virus 1. In a 1982 study of the effects of bitter melon on the herpes simplex virus-1, MAP30 inhibited the reproduction of the virus,
as well as reducing its capability to form plaques.  According to certified nutritional consultant Phyllis Balch, Momordica charantia extracts are more effective than the drug acyclovir at killing strains of herpes virus that are not resistant to acyclovir.

Bitter Melon and HIV Treatment

Since the early 1980’s, bitter melon fruits and seeds have been investigated in vitro and in vivo as an efficacious treatment for HIV. Scientists have found that Momordica charantia contains some proteins that can inhibit HIV in the test-tube. These proteins, known collectively as ribosome-inactivating proteins are alpha-momorcharin, beta-momorcharin and MAP-30. MAP30 is an anti-HIV plant protein. It is capable of acting against different stages of the viral life cycle, on acute infection as well as replication in chronically infected cells. In addition to antiviral action, MAP30 furthermore possesses topological inactivation of viral DNA, inhibition of viral integrase and cell-free ribosome-inactivation effects.

In lab experiments, bitter melon extracts inhibit the ability of  HIV to insert its DNA into the chromosomes of human cells. In vitro antiviral effect has been showed with bitter melon and its inhibitory effects on HIV integrating into host cells. In vitro research has demonstrated decreased, rates of T lymphocyte infections with HIV-1 and decreased viral replication in infected cells. Scientists at the “New York University School of Medicine” explained that MAP 30 protein is able to slow down HIV-1 infection in T-lymphocytes and monocytes as well as replication of  HIV-1 in infected cells. In one experiment, HIV-infected cells treated with alpha- and beta-momorcharin demonstrated a almost complete loss of viral antigen while normal cells were unaffected. According to study published in June 2001 edition in the Planta Medica; protein extracted from the ripe seed and fruit  decreased viral protein in HIV-infected cells by 82% and inhibited one process involved in viral replication by 50%.

Bitter Melon Shows Powerful Anti Cancer Activities

Bitter melon (Momordica Charantia) is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Bitter melon contains a number of natural compounds with biological activity, including alkaloids, glycosides and triterpenoids. MAP30, a protein isolated from bitter melon extract, has been reported to possess anticancer effect.

Bitter Melon Cancer Prevention and Treatment

In vitro and animal-based studies indicate anticancer activity. Bitter melon displays cytotoxic effect against leukemic cells in vitro and has a cytostatic activity on MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells xenografted into mice.

Different in vitro studies have showed the anticancer effect of bitter melon against various cell lines, including liver cancer, human leukemia, solid sarcomas and melanoma. A University of Colorado Cancer study reported in the journal “Carcinogenesis” shows that bitter melon juice restricts the ability of pancreatic cancer cells to metabolize glucose. The cell cultures were treated with bitter melon juice while the mice were fed lyophilized bitter melon juice for a period of 6 weeks. Scientists evaluated bitter melon juice’s effects on pancreatic cancer cells in mice, and found that the mice that were given the juice had a 60% lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with control mice.

Bitter melon, exerts a important impact against breast cancer cell growth and may become a chemopreventive agent against this form of cancer. According to research published in the journal” Cancer Research“; bitter melon extract, can be utilized as a dietary supplement for the avoiding of breast cancer. In study, used human breast cancer cells, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, and primary human mammary epithelial cells as an in vitro model to assess the efficacy of bitter melon extract as an anticancer agent. Bitter melon extract treatment of breast cancer cells resulted in a significant decrease in cell proliferation and induced apoptotic cell death. When cell death was measured by looking at cell membrane integrity, 80% of the MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cancer cells had died within 48 hours of therapy with 2 parts bitter melon extract to 100 parts cell culture medium. The scientists found that cell division was partially halted when treated with bitter melon extract for 24 hours. “Our findings suggest that bitter melon extract modulates several signal transduction pathways, which induces breast cancer cell death,” explained scientist Ratna B. Ray, professor in the Department of Pathology at Saint Louis University.

Can Bitter Melon Help Type 2 Diabetes?

Bitter melon (Momordica Charantia), as it is sometimes called, are grown in Asia, East Africa and South America. Some researches show that bitter melon extract improves glucose tolerance, reduces blood sugar levels, and lowers HbA1c in patients with type 2 diabetes. In studies the fresh fruit, its freshly squeezed juice and the homogenized suspension of bitter melon have led to important  diminution in both fasting and postprandial blood glucose. Bitter melon is not like most chemical medications, which are efficacious just in one target organ or tissue; rather, it influences glucose metabolism all over the body.

Bitter Melon and Diabetes Treatment

Bitter melon may have blood-sugar-lowering properties that could help treat diabetes. Bitter melon contains the constituents vicine, charantin and polypeptide-P which are thought to be responsible for bitter melon’s properties in reducing blood sugar levels. Together they enhance glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in the liver, muscle, and adipose tissue and improve glucose tolerance. In a study published in the March 2008 edition of the International Journal of Chemistry and Biology, scientists discovered that bitter melon contains compounds that activate the enzyme AMPK, which enhances glucose uptake by cells. Bitter melon main components interact with the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), this enzyme regulates fuel metabolism and facilitates glucose uptake. This protein, known as AMPK, is normally activated in the body through exercise. Although there are drugs that can  activate this protein, this plant provides the same result with no adverse effects.

A study reported in the journal “Phytomedicine” in 1996 found that bitter melon helped to decrease blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. Another clinical trial reported in 1999 found that taking bitter melon reduced blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes. A study, reported in a 1999 edition of the “Bangladesh Medical Research Council Bulletin“, used an aqueous suspension of bitter melon vegetable pulp in 100 participants with type 2. The researchers examined the effect at one hour after bitter melon was administered and then 2 hours after a 75-gr oral glucose tolerance test. The average blood glucose was 222 mg/dl, which was lower than the previous day’s 2-hour value of 257 mg/dl.

In the “Journal of Medicinal Food“,  scientists analyzed the effect of  Momordica charantia extracts in diabetic and healthy rats. As a result, bitter melon strongly reduced glucose levels in diabetic rats and showed favorable effects in the regulation of blood glucose in normal rats. In 2007, a study by the “Philippine Department of Health” determined a daily dose of 100 mg per kilogram of body weight is comparable to 2.5 mg/kg of the antidiabetes medication glibenclamide used twice per day.  In Jan 2011, the findings of a 4-week studies were reported in the Journal of  “Ethnopharmacology“, which demonstrated that a 2000 mg daily dose of bitter melon significantly reduced blood glucose levels among patients with type 2 diabetes. Egyptian researchers develop bitter melon tablet to fight diabetes. Insulin is administered through injection because it is broken down by stomach enzymes if taken orally. The novelty of the bitter melon tablet is that “the fruit’s active ingredients have a specific coating that prevents hydrolysis of this substance by enzymes,” explains Dr. Souad al-Gengaihi.

Can Andrographis Help to Beat Cancer?

Andrographis paniculata, is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Family Acanthaceae. The stems and leaves of the plant are used to extract the active phytochemicals. Different active constituents have been identified, including andrographolide, deoxyandrographolide and other diterpenes. It was detected that andrographolide had the action of anti-tumor in gastric cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and liver cancer.

Andrographis Anticancer Activity

Andrographolide, a diterpenoid lactone isolated from an herbal plant Andrographis paniculata, is known to possess anticancer effect. Andrographolide suppresses proliferation and triggers apoptosis in many types of cancer cells. Various studies have shown that andrographolide is a powerful inducer of apoptosis in different cancer cell lines, substantiating its potential in cancer treatment. Andrographis has been found in lab experiments to increase lymphocyte production and proliferation, along with increasing key cytokines such as tumor TNF-alpha (necrosis factor alpha), NK (natural killer cell) function and IL-2 (interleukin-2). Immunostimulatory activity of andrographolide is evidenced by increased proliferation of lymphocytes and production of interleukin-2. Andrographolide as well as improves the tumor necrosis factor-alpha production and CD marker expression, resulting in increased cytotoxic activity of lymphocytes against cancer cells, which may contribute for its indirect anticancer activity.

Andrographis paniculata extracts are cytotoxic against cancer cells. Favorable results have been seen in relation to breast, prostate, skin and stomach cancer cells in test-tube studies. Andrographolide and ethanol extract of andrographis paniculata were found to have significantly growth inhibitory effects on human acute myeloid leukemic HL-60 cells after 24 h of therapy. Researchers concluded that andrographolide and andrographis extract induce cell cycle arrest and affect an intrinsic mitochondria-dependent pathway of apoptosis by regulating the expression of some pro-apoptotic markers in HL-60 cells.

In 1977, a clinical trial was done on 60 people that were affected with skin Basalioma, 41 of which had Metastasis. According to The Journal of  Chinese Medicine, 12 patients, who only received extracts of A. paniculata recovered. A. paniculata inhibited IL-6 expression and IL-6-mediated signals in human prostate cancer cells, and suppressed tumor growth of  DU145 human prostate tumors in mice.  Lab experiments have showed that A.paniculata may inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cells just as well as the medicine tamoxifen.  In mice planted with B16 melanoma tumors, oral use of Andrographolide at 100-200mg/kg oral dose was associated with a suppression of tumor growth at 30-36% and 39-52%  over the course of ten days. A group of Japanese scientists studied Andrographis paniculata on sarcoma cells. When tumor samples were tested under the microscope, A. paniculata was found to inhibit the growth of the tumors.