Ginseng treatment reduces bacterial load and lung pathology in chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumonia in rats.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1997 May;41(5):961-4. PMID: 9145852
The predominant pathogen in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which results in a chronic lung infection associated with progressive pulmonary insufficiency. In a rat model of chronic P. aeruginosa pneumonia mimicking that in patients with CF, we studied whether the inflammation and antibody responses could be changed by treatment with the Chinese herbal medicine ginseng. An aqueous extract of ginseng was injected subcutaneously, and cortisone and saline were used as controls. Two weeks after challenge with P. aeruginosa, the ginseng-treated group showed a significantly improved bacterial clearance from the lungs (P < 0.04), less severe lung pathology (P = 0.05), lower lung abscess incidence (P < 0.01), and fewer mast cell numbers in the lung foci (P < 0.005). Furthermore, lower total immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels (P < 0.01) and higher IgG2a levels (P < 0.025) in serum against P. aeruginosa sonicate and a shift from an acute type to a chronic type of lung inflammation compared to those in the control and cortisone-treated groups were observed. These findings indicate that ginseng treatment of an experimental P. aeruginosa pneumonia in rats promotes a cellular response resembling a TH1-like response. On the basis of these results it is suggested that ginseng may have the potential to be a promising natural medicine, in conjunction with other forms of treatment, for CF patients with chronic P. aeruginosa lung infection.