Posts Tagged ‘immune system’

Compound K – Ginseng Saponin

September 20, 2018 Leave a comment



Compound K is a saponin metabolite from Korean Ginseng.


For over 2000 years, humankind have used herbal medicine to treat various kinds of symptoms and diseases. Around 400 B.C. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended chewing on the willow bark and drinking tea from the willow leaves to relieve fevers and pain [1]. In the mid 1800s, the active component from the willow extract was derived to be salicylic acid – modern day aspirin. To this day aspirin is being used by millions of people worldwide for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes. While the era of antibiotics started with penicillin in the 1940s, modernization and mass production of drugs have only took off since World War II [2].

Ginseng comes from the root of Panax ginsengKorean ginseng, amongst many other ginseng variants such as the South China and American ginseng. It has been in use for at least 2000 years but only recently the secrets of ginseng have come into light. It has been well documented that saponins from Ginseng (also known as Ginsenosides) have various medicinal properties. The first of 6 saponins have been isolated during the 1960s. To date there are over a 100 saponins found in Ginseng.

Compound K has only been recently discovered as a “saponin metabolite” from Ginsenoside Rb1. While Compound K is 100% absorbable through the human gut, these saponin metabolites have not been reported to be found in raw or processed ginseng.

As most modern day drugs are metabolized in the liver, Compound K is created through the metabolism of Ginsenoside (Rb1) through the intestinal flora. In other words the human gut plays an important role in metabolizing ginseng saponin to active metabolites. Unfortunately, studies show that a majority of individuals do not possess the enzymes that can break down ginseng saponins to Compound K. This finding may help explain the discrepancies and effectiveness of ginseng between individuals [4].

Thus, metabolism of ginseng saponins to the Compound K plays an important role and effectiveness in the pharmacologic effects of ginseng. Various studies show that Compound K exhibit potent pharmacologic effects such as anti-inflammatory [5], anti-diabetic [6], anti-tumor [7], and cardiovascular protective [8] to name a few. This broad spectrum activity is most likely attributed to its activity against inflammation while boosting the immune system.

Quite a few dietary supplements contain ginseng extract but does it contain Compound K? Compound K is not found naturally in raw or (dried or heat) processed ginseng. Consumers who seek effects associated with ginseng should actively seek Compound K in order to receive maximum benefit.


  1. “Aspirin”. Chemical & Engineering News. August 13, 2007
  2. “Discovery and Development of Penicillin.” ACS Chemistry for Life.
  3. Kim D.H. Gut microbiota-mediated pharmacokinetics of ginseng saponins. J. Ginseng Res 42 (2018) 255-263
  4. Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, South Korea
  5. Kim J.H et al. Role of ginsenosides, the main active components of Panax ginseng, in inflammatory responses and diseases.  J. Ginseng Res 41 (2017) 435-443
  6. Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) improves insulin sensitivity and attenuates the development of diabetes in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima fatty rats. Metabolism. Vol. 58 Issue 8, August 2009. 1170-1177
  7. Kang KA et al. Compound K, a metabolite of ginseng saponin, inhibits colorectal cancer cell growth and induces apoptosis through inhibition of histone deacetylase activity. Int J Oncol. 2013 Dec;43(6):1907-14
  8. Lee C.H. et al. A review on the medicinal potentials of ginseng and ginsenosides on cardiovascular diseases. J. Ginseng Res 38 (2014) 161-166


Is there a “best if used by” date for breastmilk?

April 16, 2014 Leave a comment

There are many questions asked by households when mothers start breastfeeding their children. Here are some examples: Is breastmilk better than formula milk? How do I store breast milk? Is there an expiration date for breast milk? What’s the shelf-life of breast milk? How long should I breastfeed my baby?

However, there is one important question most parents fail to address or even think about:

What is the expiration date for breast milk?  Is there a "best if used by" date?

Is there a “best if used by” date?

Most people do not think twice about the quality of the food products they buy until the “sell-by” or the “best-by” date.  Breast milk also has a “best if used by date,” yet we shouldn’t view it quite the same as other foods.

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How to Store Breast Milk?

April 15, 2014 Leave a comment

How do you store or handle breast milk?  There are many websites that explain the storage of breast milk. The shelf life of breast milk is determined by a number of factors: the environment and temperature it is kept in, storage techniques, type of container used, and clean practices used to express the milk.

The CDC has an excellent chart detailing how long one can store breast milk in various environments. (Click here to download The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine protocol for human-milk-storage information.)


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FAQs – My Baby is Sick and Can’t Breathe!

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

my baby is sick and can't breathe

Top 5 frequently asked questions in Happy Baby USA.

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Babies and Infection – Why does my baby keep getting sick?

November 9, 2011 2 comments

Why does my baby keep getting sick!

Is there something wrong with my baby?  Should I be concerned?  Are there any ways to prevent this?  These are just a few of the many questions this article will attempt to explain.

Let us start with a little background on the immune system.

Simply speaking, the immune system is your body’s defense mechanism against foreign and infectious agents.  The immune system comprises of two main components – innate and adaptive.  Innate immunity can be thought of typically as your first line of defense, like the skin, mucous membranes and specific cells of the body such as neutrophils and macrophages.  Adaptive immunity can be compared to an elite group of special forces – lymphocytes (B and T cells), plasma cells and antigen presenting cells.  Plasma cells and B cells create antibodies for the immune system.  Innate and adaptive immunity together work hand in hand to protect the body from foreign and infectious agents. Read more…

Baby Vaccinations

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Vaccinations are one of the best means to prevent disease and malaise in babies and children.

(Click the picture to download the latest PDF vaccination schedule for babies – June 2011.)

As of 2011, there are currently 16 diseases that children are being vaccinated against.  They are measles, mumps and rubella, hepatitis B, diptheria, pertussis and tetanus, poliomyelitis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis A, rotavirus, varicella, pneumococcal disease, meningocooccal disease and influenza.  Human papillomavirus HPV vaccine has been recommended Read more…

Babies and Infection – My Baby has a Cold and can’t Breathe!

September 1, 2011 4 comments

My baby has a cold and can’t breathe!  All parents have dealt with colds that seem to all of a sudden start to crop up after 4~6 months of age.  Unfortunately most parents have also experienced helplessness when they see their child struggling to breathe.  It is especially distressing during this period because your newborn does not quite have the capacity to breathe comfortably through his/her mouth – thus the term obligate nose breathers.

At the time of birth, your baby is blessed with immune help from the mother – antibodies, in the form of IgG is transferred directly from the mother to the baby during the time in the womb.  Babies can also receive additional immune help from the immunoglobulin IgA which is only present in the mother’s breast milk and not formula milk.  (Although IgG is a wonderful protectant to the baby, IgG is less effective in fighting some bacteria namely Gram-negative bacteria.)

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