Ginseng has always been highly perceived as a valuable traditional Chinese medicine in China. Currently, much attention also has been paid to ginsenosides, the main active ingredients extracted from ginseng. Strikingly, ginsenoside Rh2, one of the most representative bioactive ginsenosides in Panax ginseng, has immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor activities, showing a therapeutic role in numerous diseases.
2. The therapeutic effect of ginsenoside Rh2
* Enhance the immune function of the human body
Ginsenoside Rh2 has the effect of enhancing the immune function of the patient's body. Notewothily, it can effectively reduce the toxicity left by chemotherapy in the human body by improving immunity.
*Ameliorate neuropathic pain
Intrathecal administration of ginsenoside Rh2 significantly attenuates SNI-induced mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. The antinociceptive effect of Rh2 continued until 10 days after SNI surgeryn, showing a potential application value in pain therapy.
Figure 1 Intrathecal injection of Rh2 inhibits neuropathic pain in mice
* Suppress the inflammation
Previous studies have revealed that ginsenoside Rh2 can inhibit spared nerve injury (SNI)-induced increase of proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1 and interleukin-6), and significantly inhibit lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced activation of BV2 cells.
Figure 2 Intrathecal injection of Rh2 reduced expression of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-α in SNI mice
* Promote the synthesis of albumin
Ginsenoside Rh2 acts as an immune regulator to promote the synthesis of albumin, which can provide heat for the human body, protect and stabilize the immunoglobulin in the blood.
* Inhibit the growth of tumor cells
Ginsenoside Rh2 exhibits a chemical structure similar to that of dexamethasone. In in vitro studies, it can suppress the growth and viability of various cancer cells, induce tumor cell cycle arrest and cellular apoptosis, trigger necrosis and autophagy in cancer cells, inhibit metastasis, and suppress angiogenesis.
* Reversal of abnormal tumor differentiation
Ginsenoside Rh2 has a differentiation-inducing effect on tumor cancer cells, and can effectively enhance the melanin production ability in cancer cells, thereby causing cancer cells to transform into normal cells in morphology.
Table 1 Anticancer effects and mechanisms of ginsenoside‑Rh2 in in vivo studies
3. The difference between ginsenoside Rg3 and ginsenoside Rh2
Figure 3 Molecular struction of ginsenoside Rg3 and ginsenoside Rh2
Both ginsenoside Rg3 and ginsenoside Rh2 have been attested to achieve antitumor effects by strengthening the immune function of the body. Despite their similar mechanisms of action, differences still exist between ginsenoside Rg3 and ginsenoside Rh2. In terms of the molecular structure, ginsenoside Rh2 has only one glycosyl group, whereas ginsenoside Rg3 has two. In addition, ginsenoside Rh2 has a higher bioavailability than ginsenoside Rg3. Ginsenoside Rg3 is easy to be excreted from the body after being taken, and won't make much difference to the body. With regard to the intestinal absorption, ginsenotone Rh2 is about 5 times of ginsenotone Rg3.
The monosaccharide ginsenoside Rh2 can effectively improve human immunity, enhance disease resistance, and reduce the risk of cancer. Relative to ginsenoside Rg3, ginsenoside Rh2 shows higher cost-efficiency in the intestinal absorption, application scope and efficacy, providing an upgraded health support.
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 Fu, Yuan-Yuan et al. Ginsenoside Rh2 Ameliorates Neuropathic Pain by inhibition of the miRNA21-TLR8-mitogen-activated protein kinase axis. Molecular pain. 2022;18:17448069221126078. doi:10.1177/17448069221126078
 He XL, Xu XH, Shi JJ, et al. Anticancer Effects of Ginsenoside Rh2: A Systematic Review. Curr Mol Pharmacol. 2022;15(1):179-189. doi:10.2174/1874467214666210309115105
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