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Both a crude and a standardised extract (G11 5) of ginseng varying in saponin concentrations have been found to protect against muscle fibre injury and inflammation after eccentric muscle contractions in rats on a treadmill. The oral ginseng extracts significantly reduced plasma creatine kinase levels by about 25% and lipid peroxidation by 1 5%. Certain markers of inflammation were also significantly reduced (Cabral de Oliveira et al 2001). In a later study, pretreatment with ginseng extract (3, 10, 100 or 500 mg/kg) administered orally for 3 months to male Wistar rats resulted in a 74% decrease in lipid peroxidation caused by eccentric exercise (Voces et al

The many and varied effects of ginseng may be partly associated with the inhibition of transcription factor NF-kappa B, which is pivotal in the regulation of inflammatory genes. Inhibition of NF-kappa B may reduce inflammation and protect cells against damage.

Topical application of several ginsenosides (Rb1, Rc, Re, Rg1, Rg3) significantly attenuated chemically induced ear oedema in mice. The ginsenosides also suppressed expression of COX-2 and activation of NF-kappa B in the skin. Of the ginsenosides tested, Rg3 was found to be most effective (Surh et al 2002).

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