Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MIT Team Explains Yin-yang Of Ginseng; Work Emphasizes Need For Stronger Regulations Of Herbal Drugs

Date:
September 1, 2004
Source:
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Summary:
In work that emphasizes the need for stronger regulations of herbal drugs, an international team of MIT scientists and colleagues has unraveled the yin and the yang of ginseng, or why the popular alternative medicine can have two entirely different, opposing effects on the body.

Ginseng (Panax quinquefolia). Photo courtesy / Lyntha Scott Eiler - Library of Congress

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- In work that emphasizes the need for stronger regulations of herbal drugs, an international team of MIT scientists and colleagues has unraveled the yin and the yang of ginseng, or why the popular alternative medicine can have two entirely different, opposing effects on the body.

Conflicting scientific articles report that ginseng can both promote the growth of blood vessels (key to wound healing) and stymie that process. The latter is important because preventing the formation of blood vessels can be enlisted against cancer. Tumors are fed by blood vessels; cutting off their supply can kill them.

In the Sept. 7, 2004 issue of Circulation: the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers from the United States, England, the Netherlands and Hong Kong explain these dual effects for the first time.

Chemical fingerprints of four different varieties of ginseng--American, Chinese, Korean and Sanqi--show that each has different proportions of two key ingredients. Additional studies showed that a preponderance of one ingredient has positive effects on the growth of blood vessels; more of the other component tips the scale the other way.

"We found that this composition really matters for the ultimate outcome," said Shiladitya Sengupta, a postdoctoral associate in MIT's Biological Engineering Division.

Further, the team found that the way ginseng extracts are processed can also alter the compositional ratio. "This is a very clear-cut example of why we need regulations standardizing herbal therapies through compositional analysis," said Professor Ram Sasisekharan of MIT's Biological Engineering Division. With the new results, "we can now rationally isolate the components to focus on a specific effect, such as promoting blood-vessel formation."

In the United States, herbal medicines are currently regulated under the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act, which does not require standardization or prior approval from the Food and Drug Administration. "You can basically crush it and sell it," Sasisekharan said.

The new results could also lead to medicines patterned after ginseng's key components. As the researchers write in Circulation, the identification of one of these in particular "opens up the exciting possibilities of harnessing [its] chemical scaffold as a prototype for wound-healing compounds."

Sasisekharan emphasizes the importance of Sengupta's interdisciplinary approach to the work. "He had the foresight to integrate the biology of cancer and blood-vessel formation to the pharmacological behavior of this drug and its structure."

MIT's role in the collaboration grew from Sasisekharan's expertise in complex sugars, which turn out to be key to ginseng's activity. "The sites where sugars are attached and how they are attached are unique for each of the molecular constituents, the ratio of which are distinct among the different varieties of ginseng," he explained. In 1999 Sasisekharan's lab developed a new tool for characterizing complex sugars.

###

Sengupta and Sasisekharan's colleagues in the work are from the University of Cambridge (T.P. Fan, Sue-Anne Toh, Lynda A. Sellers and Jeremy N. Skepper), Gaubius Laboratory, TNO-PG, Leiden, the Netherlands (Pieter Koolwijk), and Hong Kong Baptist University (Hi Wun Leung, Hin-Wing Yeung and Ricky N.S. Wong).

This work was funded by the Cambridge Nehru Trust, the U.K. Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, Hong Kong RGC, the Dutch Cancer Society, and the U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Team Explains Yin-yang Of Ginseng; Work Emphasizes Need For Stronger Regulations Of Herbal Drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040831094238.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. (2004, September 1). MIT Team Explains Yin-yang Of Ginseng; Work Emphasizes Need For Stronger Regulations Of Herbal Drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040831094238.htm
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Team Explains Yin-yang Of Ginseng; Work Emphasizes Need For Stronger Regulations Of Herbal Drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040831094238.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins