A comprehensive review of the therapeutic and pharmacological effects of ginseng and ginsenosides in central nervous system

J Ginseng Res. 2013 Mar;37(1):8-29. doi: 10.5142/jgr.2013.37.8.


Ginseng is one of the most widely used herbal medicines in human. Central nervous system (CNS) diseases are most widely investigated diseases among all others in respect to the ginseng's therapeutic effects. These include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cerebral ischemia, depression, and many other neurological disorders including neurodevelopmental disorders. Not only the various types of diseases but also the diverse array of target pathways or molecules ginseng exerts its effect on. These range, for example, from neuroprotection to the regulation of synaptic plasticity and from regulation of neuroinflammatory processes to the regulation of neurotransmitter release, too many to mention. In general, ginseng and even a single compound of ginsenoside produce its effects on multiple sites of action, which make it an ideal candidate to develop multi-target drugs. This is most important in CNS diseases where multiple of etiological and pathological targets working together to regulate the final pathophysiology of diseases. In this review, we tried to provide comprehensive information on the pharmacological and therapeutic effects of ginseng and ginsenosides on neurodegenerative and other neurological diseases. Side by side comparison of the therapeutic effects in various neurological disorders may widen our understanding of the therapeutic potential of ginseng in CNS diseases and the possibility to develop not only symptomatic drugs but also disease modifying reagents based on ginseng.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Ischemia; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Panax ginseng; Parkinson’s disease.