A Korean research team said Wednesday it found that a stable dose of red ginseng given to people infected with HIV prevented it from developing into AIDS.
The team, led by Prof. Cho Young-keol of the College of Medicine at the University of Ulsan, conducted the research on three HIV carriers who contracted the disease in 1987, 1988 and 1992, respectively.
They took 6,000 milligrams of red ginseng almost every day without taking HIV vaccines and medicines. Cho said the patients' heath improved and they did not go on to develop AIDS.
The research was published in the latest edition of the AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, a U.S. journal focusing on HIV treatment.
The results indicate that Korean red ginseng could provide an alternative and effective way of treating HIV patients. According to Cho, an HIV patient in Australia has survived a record 29 years without taking HIV vaccines.
"One of the Korean HIV carriers has survived 25 years now. The carrier could survive longer than the Australian because his immune system has improved since taking red ginseng."
A number of studies have shown the long-term intake of Korean red ginseng can boost the human immune system and increase stamina. Researchers have also found that it can be effective in treating cancer, diabetes as well as sexual dysfunction.
Korean red ginseng is also being studied for possible efficacy in preventing memory loss, reducing symptoms of attention deficit disorder in children, preventing colds and flu. Red ginseng is now a common ingredient in energy drinks.
The research team said there should be further studies to see whether the containment of HIV virus was affected by the intake of red ginseng alone or in combination with other factors.