Panax ginseng, also called Asian or Korean ginseng, has long been traditionally used in Korea and China to treat various diseases. The major active ingredients of P. ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of therapeutic effects, including antioxidation, anti-inflammatory, vasorelaxation, antiallergic, antidiabetic, and anticancer. To date, approximately 40 ginsenoside components have been reported. Current research is concentrating on using a single ginseng compound, one of the ginsenosides, instead of the total ginseng compounds, to determine the mechanisms of ginseng and ginsenosides. Recent in vitro and in vivo results show that ginseng has beneficial effects on cardiac and vascular diseases through efficacy, including antioxidation, control of vasomotor function, modulation of ion channels and signal transduction, improvement of lipid profiles, adjustment of blood pressure, improvement in cardiac function, and reduction in platelet adhesion. This review aims to provide valuable information on the traditional uses of ginseng and ginsenosides, their therapeutic applications in animal models and humans, and the pharmacological action of ginseng and ginsenosides.
Keywords: Panax ginseng; blood pressure; lipid profile; myocardial protection; vasomotor tone.