Panax Ginseng is a commonly used galenical known to have an enhancing effect on learning. Neurogenesis in the hippocampus has been shown to be necessary for hippocampus/amygdala-dependent learning tasks. To investigate the role of Ginseng in neurogenesis and learning of rats, we administered both Ginseng and BrdU for five consecutive days. As a result, Ginseng increased the number of BrdU-positive cells in the dentate gyrus in a dose-dependent manner. Further, we administered one dose of BrdU after Ginseng treatment for five consecutive days, and the number of BrdU-positive cells did not increase significantly. However, when one dose of BrdU was given 1 day before the following five consecutive days of Ginseng treatment, the number of BrdU-positive cells markedly increased in the hippocampus. Therefore, it is likely that Ginseng enhances not proliferation but survival of newly generated neurons in the hippocampus. Second, we administered both Ginseng and BrdU to rats for five consecutive days. One day after the last Ginseng and BrdU co-administration, contextual fear conditioning (CFC) was conducted. Ginseng in a dose-dependent manner increased the % freezing time and the number of BrdU-positive cells in the dentate gyrus of rats that received CFC. Thus, an increase in CFC-related neurogenesis may be one mechanism of Ginseng's properties to enhance learning ability.
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