Panax ginseng, a medicinal plant, has been used as a blood-nourishing tonic for thousands of years in Asia, including Korea and China. P. ginseng exhibits adaptogen activity that maintains homeostasis by restoring general biological functions and non-specifically enhancing the body's resistance to external stress. Several P. ginseng effects have been reported. Korean Red Ginseng, in particular, has been reported in both basic and clinical studies to possess diverse effects such as enhanced immunity, fatigue relief, memory, blood circulation, and anti-oxidation. Moreover, it also protects against menopausal symptoms, cancer, cardiac diseases, and neurological disorders. The active components found in most Korean Red Ginseng varieties are known to include ginsenosides, polysaccharides, peptides, alkaloids, polyacetylene, and phenolic compounds. In this review, the identity and bioactivity of the non-saponin components of Korean Red Ginseng discovered to date are evaluated and the components are classified into polysaccharide and nitrogen compounds (protein, peptide, amino acid, nucleic acid, and alkaloid), as well as fat-soluble components such as polyacetylene, phenols, essential oils, and phytosterols. The distinct bioactivity of Korean Red Ginseng was found to originate from both saponin and non-saponin components rather than from only one or two specific components. Therefore, it is important to consider saponin and non-saponin elements together.
Keywords: Alkaloids; Fat-soluble component; Korean Red Ginseng; Non-saponins; Polysaccharides.
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