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Lower Cholesterol and Improve Cardiovacular Function with Notoginseng!

Ginseng has been used in China for thousands of years to restore energy and balance. Today, it is one of the most popular herbs in the world, but most people don’t realize there are several species of ginseng which are used for a variety of specific health issues.

According to a group of scientists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who recently published a paper on identifying the DNA of Notoginseng, most of the plants that belong to the well-known Panax species are similar in appearance and chemical composition. Among these however, “the root of Panax Notoginseng (San Qi) is a unique herb that has distinct clinical usage.” 1

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have called notoginseng “the miracle root for the preservation of life.”

Research is showing that Notoginseng exerts a number of beneficial effects on several physiological functions, including the nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems. It is widely used in Asia for angina, to help lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and to expand coronary arteries in order to promote blood circulation and prevent blood clots.

According to Ron Teeguarden, master herbalist and author of Radiant Health: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs (Warner Books, 1998), Notoginseng is also considered one of the most powerful blood tonics known to man. It is used in Chinese medicine to assist coagulation of the blood, stop bleeding, and to dilate the coronary artery and increase coronary blood flow, thus providing more blood to the heart muscle. The herb also reduces cardiac load, lowers arterial pressure, and improves micro-circulation in and around damaged heart tissue.2

Notoginseng also helps protect the liver, has anti-inflammatory effects3, and produces anti-carcinogenic effects on some forms of cancer. 24

How Notoginseng works

The Notoginseng plant looks similar to Siberian Ginseng, and contains twelve saponins (phytochemicals) that are similar to the active ingredients in Panax Ginseng. Notoginseng is actually richer in active constituents than either Panax or American Ginseng, and it also contains immune stimulating polysacchaarides.5

In an in-vitro experiment, scientists at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University also found that one of Notoginseng’s active ingredients-ginsenosides Rg1-is a potent phytoestrogen, exerting the protective actions of estrogen.6 Ginsenosides have demonstrated pharmacological effects in the central nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems.
Scientific studies

Notoginseng has been found to clinically relieve chest pain associated with angina. Angina typically results from a spasm in the wall of the coronary artery that momentarily constricts the artery and cuts off the heart’s blood supply. In a clinical study that reportedly took place at Wu-Han Medical College (now called Tongji Medical University) in Shanghai, China, 15 out of 16 patients with angina who were given Notoginseng experienced significant relief.7

Animal studies also suggest that Notoginseng can dilate coronary arteries and be used as an anti-anginal agent.8

Other benefits:

Notoginseng has also been shown to:

  • Have anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effects in animals9
  • Strengthen the immune system105
  • Increase blood circulation in the heart and brain while lowering elevated blood pressure 11
  • Reduce cell damage after heart attack, and protect nerve and brain cells from the damage of stroke12
  • Prevent atherosclerosis and inhibit progression of atherosclerotic lesions13
  • Lower elevated blood lipids14
  • Prevent arrhythmias due to lack of oxygen to the heart15
  • Enhance sperm motility, enhancing male fertility16
  • Inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells17
  • Protect the liver from injury18
  • Possibly reverse dementia by regenerating injured brain cells19

Not your typical ginseng

High blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and high triglycerides and cholesterol, all contribute to restricted blood circulation…which leads to heart attack and stroke, the main causes of death in people over 40 years old. Millions of adults are taking one or more pharmaceuticals to regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and/or to reduce platelet aggregation. But none of these drugs is without risk of side effects, and instead of actually helping a person achieve health, they tend to “control” the condition, while helping extend one’s life.

Notoginseng is recognized as a potent antioxidant, which is one of the reasons it can counteract the free radical damage associated with cardiovascular disease-and really reverse the damage that has already been done-while offering protection from future problems. It also strengthens resistance to illness and acts as an anti-inflammatory, even reducing the growth of some cancers. An in-vitro study also indicates that it can even regenerate axons and dendrites in neurons, that can compensate for and repair damaged neuronal networks in the dementia brain.19

Notoginseng has been used successfully for thousands of years in China, which is where most of the scientific studies of this herb are being done. As more and more Western journals publish the results of these studies, Notoginseng will most likely become a popular supplement, like its cousins Panax and Siberian Ginseng.

In the meantime, Notoginseng has been considered “more valuable than gold” for thousands of years, and one that you can feel confident in adding to your health regimen for cardiovascular, immune and brain protection.

Caution: Notoginseng should not be used by pregnant women.

References

  1. Tsim, K.W.K., et. al. Authentication of Panax notoginseng by 5S-rRNA spacer domain and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis. Planta Med, 2003;69(6):584-586).
  2. Teeguarden, Ron. Radiant Health: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs. Warner Books, NY, 1998, pp. 171-173.
  3. Li SH, Chu Y. Anti-inflammatory effects of total saponins of Panax notoginseng. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1999 Jun; 20(6): 551-4.
  4. Konoshima T, Takasaki M, Tokuda H.Anti-carcinogenic activity of the roots of Panax notoginseng. II. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999 Oct; 22(10): 1150-2.
  5. Gao H, Wang F, Lien EJ, Trousdale MD, Immunostimulating polysaccharides from Panax notoginseng, Pharm Res. 1996 Aug:13(8): 1196-200.
  6. Chan RY, Chen WF, Dong A, Guo D, Wong MS. Estrogen-like activity of ginsenoside Rg1 derived from Panax notoginseng. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Aug; 87(8): 3691-5.
  7. Bensky, D, Gamble, A. Chinese Materia Medica. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1986.
  8. Lei XL, Chiou GC. Cardiovascular pharmacology of Panax notoginseng (Burk) F.H. Chen and Salvia miltiorrhiza. Am J Chin Med. 1986; 14(3-4): 145-52.
  9. Wang, Y.L. et al. Effects and mechanism of total saponins of Panax Notoginseng on anti-inflammation and analgesia. Chung Kuo Chung His I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. 14:35-36, 5-6.
  10. Li XY. Immunomodulating Chinese herbal medicines. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991; 86 Suppl 2: 159-64.
  11. Hu, Y. et al. Effects of artificial cultured Panax notoginseng cell on cardiovascular system. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih.(June, 1992) 17:361-363, 384.
  12. Jiang KY, Qian ZN. Effects of Panax notoginseng saponins on posthypoxic cell damage of neurons in vitro. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1995 Sep; 16(5): 399-402.
  13. Lin SG, Zheng XL, Chen QY, Sun JJ. Effect of Panax notoginseng saponins on increased proliferation of cultured aortic smooth muscle cells stimulated by hypercholesterolemic serum. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1993 Jul; 14(4): 314-6.
  14. Cicero AF, Vitale G, Savino G, Arletti R. Panax notoginseng (Burk.) effects on fibrinogen and lipid plasma level in rats fed on a high-fat diet. Phytother Res. 2003 Feb; 17(2): 174-8.
  15. Chen J, Xu M, Chen L, et al. Effect of Panax notoginseng saponins on sperm motility. Phytomedicine 1998; 5(4) 289-292.
  16. Chen J, Xu M, Chen L, et al. Effect of Panax notoginseng saponins on sperm motility. Phytomedicine 1998; 5(4) 289-292.
  17. Chung VQ, Tattersall M, Cheung HT. Interactions of a herbal combination that inhibits growth of prostate cancer cells. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2004 Jan 17.
  18. Yoshikawa M, Morikawa T, Kashima Y, Ninomiya K, Matsuda H. Structures of new dammarane-type Triterpene Saponins from the flower buds of Panax notoginseng and hepatoprotective effects of principal Ginseng Saponins. J Nat Prod. 2003 Jul; 66(7): 922-7.
  19. Tohda C, Matsumoto N, Zou K, Meselhy MR, Komatsu K. Axonal and dendritic extension by protopanaxadiol-type saponins from ginseng drugs in SK-N-SH cells. Jpn J Pharmacol. 2002 Nov; 90(3): 254-62.

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