Many ginseng users claim improved sleep patterns as an advantage gained by regular ingestion of the roots. That Panax ginseng extract given orally in drinking water modulated sleep in unrestrained rats was demonstrated by Rhee et al.
(1990) who observed that the amount of wakefulness was significantly decreased during a 12 hr period of light whilst the amount of slow wave sleep was increased. Sleep was apparently unaffected during the dark period. The same group (Lee et al., 1990a) observed that the amount of slow wave sleep and wakefulness fluctuated significantly during 48 hours food deprivation and also during the following recovery periods. However, employing age-matched male rats chronically treated with ginseng extract via drinking water, the fluctuation was markedly reduced. Therefore it was suggested that the beneficial effect of ginseng might be related, in part, to improvement of sleep caused by a stabilising effect on sleep-waking disturbances.
Investigating a ginseng fraction rich in protopanaxadiol type saponins with rats as experimental animals, Shimizu et al. (1991) reported a tranquillising effect with acutely increased diurnal slow-wave sleep and chronically decreased nocturnal locomotor activity. The Tokyo group also studied the effects of an enzyme-treated ginseng extract (Shimizu et al., 1992). The cyclomaltodextrin glucanotransferase-treated Panax ginseng extract lacked bitter taste and its antifatigue properties were tested using exercise-loaded sleep-deprived male rats which had undertaken forced locomotion on a treadmill for three hours prior to the dark period. Without treatment the tired rats demonstrated a significant increase in slow wave sleep and correspondingly less wakefulness during the 12 hour dark period. Forty mg of the enzyme-treated ginseng given orally shortly before and after the treadmill exercise prevented the fatigue-prompted increase of slow-wave sleep and significantly returned the amount of nocturnal wakefulness to normal. Thus the enzyme-treated ginseng extract exerted an anti-fatigue effect in the presence of physical stress.
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