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J Med Food. 2012 Oct;15(10):855-62. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.0017. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Protective effect of Korean red ginseng extract on the infections by H1N1 and H3N2 influenza viruses in mice.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Ginseng has been used in humans for thousands of years and is known to have multiple biological and immunomodulatory effects. In this study, we investigated whether Korean red ginseng extract would have preventive and antiviral effects on influenza virus infection. Oral administration to mice of red ginseng extract prior to infection significantly increased survival after infection with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus. Daily oral treatment of vaccinated mice with red ginseng extract provided enhanced cross-protection against antigenically distinct H1N1 and H3N2 influenza viruses. Naive mice that were infected with virus mixed with red ginseng extract showed significantly enhanced protection, lower levels of lung viral titers and interleukin-6, but higher levels of interferon-γ compared with control mice having virus infections without red ginseng extract, indicating an antiviral effect of ginseng. In addition, ginseng extract exhibited inhibitory effects on the growth of influenza virus in vitro. This study provides evidence that intake of ginseng extract will have beneficial effects on preventing lethal infection with newly emerging influenza viruses.

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