The use of Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius in traditional Chinese medicine dates back to about 5000 years ago thanks to its several beneficial and healing properties. Over the past few years, extensive preclinical and clinical evidence in the scientific literature worldwide has supported the beneficial effects of P. ginseng and P. quinquefolius in significant central nervous system, metabolic, infectious and neoplastic diseases. There has been growing research on ginseng because of its favorable pharmacokinetics, including the intestinal biotransformation which is responsible for the processing of ginsenosides - contained in the roots or extracts of ginseng - into metabolites with high pharmacological activity and how such principles act on numerous cell targets. The aim of this review is to provide a simple and extensive overview of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of P. ginseng and P. quinquefolius, focusing on the clinical evidence which has shown particular effectiveness in specific diseases, such as dementia, diabetes mellitus, respiratory infections, and cancer. Furthermore, the review will also provide data on toxicological factors to support the favorable safety profile of these medicinal plants.
Keywords: Compound K; Free radicals; Ginsenosides; Heme oxygenase; Herbal products; Medicinal plants.
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