Panax quinquefolium L. (American Ginseng, AG) is an herb characteristic for regions of North America and Asia. Due to its beneficial properties it has been extensively investigated for decades. Nowadays, it is one of the most commonly applied medical herbs worldwide. Active compounds of AG are ginsenosides, saponins of the glycosides group that are abundant in roots, leaves, stem, and fruits of the plant. Ginsenosides are suggested to be primarily responsible for health-beneficial effects of AG. AG acts on the nervous system; it was reported to improve the cognitive function in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, display anxiolytic activity, and neuroprotective effects against neuronal damage resulting from ischemic stroke in animals, demonstrate anxiolytic activity, and induce neuroprotective effects against neuronal damage in ischemic stroke in animals. Administration of AG leads to inhibition of hypertrophy in heart failure by regulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in mice as well as depletion of cardiac contractile function in rats. It also has an anti-diabetic and anti-obesity potential as it increases insulin sensitivity and inhibits formation of adipose tissue. AG displays anti-cancer effect by induction of apoptosis of cancer cells and reducing local inflammation. It exerts antimicrobial effects against several pathogenic strains of bacteria. Therefore, AG presents a high potential to induce beneficial health effects in humans and should be further explored to formulate precise nutritional recommendations, as well as to assess its value in prevention and therapy of some disorders, including cancer.
Keywords: Panax quinquefolium L.; anti-cancer activity; anti-diabetic potential; antimicrobial effect; ginsenosides.