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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Degradation of ginsenosides in humans after oral administration.

Even though the degradation of ginsenosides has been thoroughly studied in animals and in vitro using acids, enzymes, and intestinal bacteria, knowledge concerning the systemic availability of ginsenosides and their degradation products in humans is generally lacking. Therefore, the attention in this article is focused on the identification of ginsenosides and their hydrolysis products reaching the systemic circulation in man. This is of great importance in understanding clinical effects, preventing herb-drug interactions, and optimizing the biopharmaceutical properties of ginseng preparations. Using a sensitive mass spectrometric method, which is specific for the identification of ginsenosides in complex biological matrices, the degradation pathway of ginsenosides in the gastrointestinal tract of humans could be elucidated following the oral administration of ginseng. Within the frame of a pilot study, human plasma and urine samples of two subjects were screened for ginsenosides and their possible degradation products. In general, the urine data coincided well with the plasma data. In both volunteers the same hydrolysis products, which are not originally present in the Ginsana extract (Pharmaton S.A., Lugano, Switzerland) ingested, were identified in plasma and urine. It was shown that two hydrolysis products of the protopanaxatriol ginsenosides, namely G-Rh1 and G-F1 may reach the systemic circulation. In addition, compound-K, the main intestinal bacterial metabolite of the protopanaxadiol ginsenosides, was detected in plasma and urine. These products are probably responsible for the action of ginseng in humans. In opposition to previous reports, G-Rb1 was identified in plasma and urine of one subject.[1]


  1. Degradation of ginsenosides in humans after oral administration. Tawab, M.A., Bahr, U., Karas, M., Wurglics, M., Schubert-Zsilavecz, M. Drug Metab. Dispos. (2003) [Pubmed]
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