Ginseng has been shown to increase the mounting behaviour of male rats and increase sperm counts in rabbit testes. The effect is not by a direct sex-hormone-like function, but probably via a gonadotropin-like action. Ginsenoside Rb1 has been shown to increase LH secretion by acting directly on the anterior pituitary gland in male rats (Tsai et al 2003). Ginsenoside Rh1 failed to activate the glucocorticoid and androgen receptors, but did demonstrate an interaction with oestrogen receptors in vitro. The effect was much weaker than 17-beta-oestradiol. Ginseng is therefore considered to contain phyto-oestrogens (Lee et al 2003). However, there are conflicting reports about oestrogen binding activity which may in part be explained by the presence or absence of zearalenone, an oestrogenic mycotoxin contaminant (Gray eta I 2004).
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