By Lee Min-hyung
A renowned Oriental medicine professor has found out scientific mechanisms that ginseng is effective in treating Parkinson’s disease.
Pusan National University (PNU) professor Kim Seung-tae and his research team said ginseng extracts help prevent neurons in the brain from deteriorating. This is a major achievement in the research history of the deadly disease, as scientists here and abroad have so far failed to unveil the exact cause behind why dopamine-producing cells in the region of the brain die off due to Parkinson’s disease, according to the research team.
Kim studied Oriental medicine at Kyung Hee University, receiving his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees there. He has since been recognised for his research results, winning the Young Research Award in 2007 at the 11th International Conference on Oriental Medicine. The following year, he also received the Poster Award at the 4th Symposium on Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. He is currently serving as the Oriental medicine professor at the PNU.
Kim injected ginseng extracts into animals and verified that ginseng protects 63 proteins which are not synthesised or modified when a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The research team expects the research to be more widely used for investigating treatments for degenerative brain diseases.
“The research proved that taking ginseng can help suppress the destruction of dopaminergic neurons,” Kim said. “This is likely to hugely contribute to developing treatments for Parkinson’s disease.”
The research was funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the National Research Foundation of Korea. In recognition of the achievement, PLOS ONE, a U.S.-based scientific journal, published the research result in its Oct. 27 edition.