Ginseng has been used for a therapeutic purpose of various kinds of diseases during many centuries in oriental medicine, but the mechanism of its effectiveness has not been fully proved by scientific experiment. In western medicine, a number of experiments were performed upon ginseng to evaluate its effectveness scientifically.
As results of mumerous chemical studies, several constituents such as panaquilon, panax acid and etherial constituents were isolated from ginseng in chemically pure form by Fujita (1905), Ariba(1922), and Miyasaki(1922).
Tremendous biological experiments were also performed with the crude extract of ginseng or its purified constituents during the past years, and it was demonstrated that ginseng has multipule effect upon the phusiological actions, such as diuretic (Watanabe, 1917), hypotensive (Park, 1960), eosinopenic (such, 1960) and hypoglycemic (Kondo, 1927) as well as depressive effect on the allergic hypersensitivity (Lee, 1939) and augmentory effect on the gastric secretion (Yoon, 1960).
Kim and Whang (1960) recently found that the similarity in pharmacological actions between ginseng and 5-hydroxytryptamine. Lee and his collaborators (1960) have proved that ginseng acts as a histamine liberator in the living body.
The present studies were undertaken to evaluate the effects of ginseng upon the basal metanolism in rats and the relation between ginseng and histamine.
Materials and Method
The experiments were carried out with healthy, male albino rats, weight approximately 300 grams. The animals were kept on a constant diet and the factors of environment were kept constant for more than one month in the laboratory and these conditions were maintained throughout the experimental period.
The metabolism of the animals was measured by modified Watts and Gourley's apparatus for rats. The above apparatus for 15-25 minutes until the animal rested quietly. Then a film of soap was made across the distal end of the burette. As the rat used oxygen, the soap film was moved up slowly toward the proximal direction of the from the respiration of the rat was absorbed in the soda lime on the bottom of the respiratory chamber. The time required for it to traverse the 5 ml volumes was measured with a stop watch.
Five or more measurements on each animal were made on the same experimental day and the mean value was calculated. The basal metabolism was calculated in terms of calories per square meter of body surface per hour by the mean oxygen consumption per hour. The animals were not fed for about 16 hours before each measurement. Each experimental group contained 5-7 animals. The measurement was performed every other day and it was continued more than one month.
The ginseng used in these studies was the Korean white ginseng root, four years old. The water extract was prepared according to the official method and was diluted with water to have the desired concentration. One milliliter of this original ginseng extract was equivalent to 0.1 gram of ginseng root. The diluted
ginseng extract was administered orally instead of drinking water (20-30 ml daily).
1) The mean value of basal metabolism in 769 measurements on 73 normal rats kept under constant diet and factors of environment in this laboratory for more than one month, was 38.1 Cal/m**2/hr at 25℃. The reliability of this value in 6 samples was 37.28±2.51 (p<0.105). This normal value is nearly corresponding to those obtained by Gemmill (1956). Kibler and Breky et al. (1942). at some high temperature (31℃).
There was some individual fluctuation in the value of basal metabolism even though they were kept under constant living conditions, but it showed no statistical significance,
2) There was no influence on basal metabolism in the group treated orally with the ginseng extract diluted more than 500 times. A remarkable increase of basal metabolism was seen in the animal group treated orally with 500 times diluted ginseng extract for a long period, and this increase was reached up to 50 Cal /m**2/hr in 15 days after the administration of this drug, This increased basal metabolism by ginseng extract was maintained during the experimental period with the above concentration.
3) Recently Lee and his co-workers proved that ginseng acts as a histamine liberator in the living body. In this light of this experiment, the author planned the following experiments to evaluate the inter-relation between ginseng and histamine in the metabolism-increasing effect.
2 mg/kg and 6 mg/kg of histmine phosphate were respectively injected to each group subcutaneouly for more than one month.
In the 2 mg/kg injected group, there was a slight increase of basal metabolism : however, in the 6 mg/kg injected group, a significant increase of basal metabolism was seen after the administration of drugs and this increase could be maintained by
the continuous administration of histamine.
4) From the results of above experiments, it was obvious that the metabolism increasing effects by ginseng extract is quite similar to those of histamine. In order to verify the effect of both histamine and ginseng upon basal metabolism, benadryl(anti-histaminics)was employed.
In the normal-rat-group, when benadryl in a dose of 3 mg/kg was injected intraperitoneally the basal metabolism seemed to be depressed slightly but not significantly.
In the group treated both with histamine and benardryl, the basal metanolism was remarkably depressed compared with the histamine anministration group, and the hypermetabolic state induced by histamine was also obivosly depressed by benadryl
Similarily, in the group, both treated with ginseng extract (1:500) and benadryl, the basal metabolism was remarkably depressed compared with the ginseng extract administration group, and the hypermetabilic state indeced by ginseng extract obviously depressed by benadryl administration.
From these results, it can be concluded that the increasing effect of ginseng upon the basal metabolism must be due to histamine liberated in the living body by ginseng.
5) To evaluate the influence of ginseng upon the chronic hypometabilic state induced experimentally, the following experiments were performed.
Not only it is well known fact that the thyroid hormone plays a important role in basal metabolism, but also there are numerous reports that the chronic metabolic disturbances (such as hypomethabolism and decreased heat production)were seen in
the thyroidectomized animal and in thyroid deficiency in the human being.
In the completely thryoidectomized groups, the author proved that the basal metabolism was decreased gradually after excision by investigation for a long period. The decreasing value reached approximately 20 per cent of the normal value around one week after thyroidectomy, since then the chronic hypometabolic state was maintained throughout the experiments without any significant variations. This value of hypometabolism nearly coincident to that obtained by Gemmill (1956) from completely thyroidectomized rats at 31℃.
In the group of chronic hypometabolic state induced by complete thyroidectomy, the basal metabolism was also increased after oral administration of ginseng and the increase of 29 per cent was maintained continuously. The increased rate of metabolism, however, in completely thyroidectomized animals ware relatively lower than that in normal group.
6) It is well known fact that testis hormone, particularly testosterone plays an important role in basal metabilism. It was also reported that the usual quantity of testosterone secreated by testis increase 10-15 per cent more in the basal metabolism rate than when the testis not active.
It the completely castrate group, the basal metabolism was decreased by 33 per cent of the normal value around one week after castration, since then the hypometabolic state was maintained throughout the experiment without significant fluctuation.
In the chronic hyponetabolic group induced by castration, the basal metabilism was also increased after the administration of ginseng. It was raised by 33 per cent and was continued throughout the experiment. The increasing rate of basal
metabolism by the ginseng extract administration in castrated animal was less remarkable than that in normal group.
7) In the un-fed animal group, the basal metabolism was remarkably decreased after starving and death followed. The duration of existence was much varied.
In the group given only ginseng extract and no food, the basal metabolism remained the same value as before until death. The duration of existence was not significantly different from the animals which were fed and the animals which were not fed and treated with ginseng.
In the animals pre-treated with ginseng extract for more than one month the basal metabolism was remarkably decreased by starving as seen in non-treated starving animals. No significant difference in duration of existence was found between pre-treated and non-treated un-fed animals.
From the results of above experiments, it is obvious that ginseng contains a certain chemical substance which increases basal metabolism in normal rats.
Since the effect of ginseng was quite similar to that of histamine in basal metabilism and these effects were similarly blocked by anti-histaminics, it may suggested that ginseng acts as a histamine liberator in the living body and the increasing effect of ginseng on the basal metabolism is due to histamine whic hwas liberated in the living body by ginseng. (These results may accord with those reported by Lee et.al)
It was also reveled that the increasing effect of ginseng on basal metabolism was seen not only in normal rats but also in rats of chronic hypometabolic state induced by complete thyroidectomy or by castration.