Ginsenosides chemistry, biosynthesis, analysis, and potential health effects

Adv Food Nutr Res. 2009;55:1-99. doi: 10.1016/S1043-4526(08)00401-4.


Ginsenosides are a special group of triterpenoid saponins that can be classified into two groups by the skeleton of their aglycones, namely dammarane- and oleanane-type. Ginsenosides are found nearly exclusively in Panax species (ginseng) and up to now more than 150 naturally occurring ginsenosides have been isolated from roots, leaves/stems, fruits, and/or flower heads of ginseng. Ginsenosides have been the target of a lot of research as they are believed to be the main active principles behind the claims of ginsengs efficacy. The potential health effects of ginsenosides that are discussed in this chapter include anticarcinogenic, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antiatherosclerotic, antihypertensive, and antidiabetic effects as well as antistress activity and effects on the central nervous system. Ginsensoides can be metabolized in the stomach (acid hydrolysis) and in the gastrointestinal tract (bacterial hydrolysis) or transformed to other ginsenosides by drying and steaming of ginseng to more bioavailable and bioactive ginsenosides. The metabolization and transformation of intact ginsenosides, which seems to play an important role for their potential health effects, are discussed. Qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques for the analysis of ginsenosides are important in relation to quality control of ginseng products and plant material and for the determination of the effects of processing of plant material as well as for the determination of the metabolism and bioavailability of ginsenosides. Analytical techniques for the analysis of ginsenosides that are described in this chapter are thin-layer chromatography (TLC), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) combined with various detectors, gas chromatography (GC), colorimetry, enzyme immunoassays (EIA), capillary electrophoresis (CE), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and spectrophotometric methods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Allergic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chromatography / methods
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / methods
  • Ginsenosides / analysis
  • Ginsenosides / biosynthesis*
  • Ginsenosides / chemistry*
  • Ginsenosides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Panax / chemistry*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods


  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Ginsenosides
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Plant Extracts