South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) made the announcement this month, adding that ginseng has been previously recognised for its ability in improving immune health and relieving fatigue.
This means that ginseng can now be attached with three different health claims 1) improving bone health, 2) improving immune health, and 3) fatigue relieving when used in health functional food.
To use ginseng as a functional raw material for improving bone health, the extract should contain 25mg of ginsenoside Rg1 and Rb 1 combined.
The announcement comes after research validating ginseng’s bone health improving function was presented.
Led by South Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA), findings of the 12-week long research were published on July 27.
Ninety women over the age of 40 were divided into three groups during the study conducted last year.
One group took 1g of ginseng extract each day, the other took 3g, while the control group took placebo.
A comparison of the osteocalcin levels – a marker of bone formation – showed that the groups consuming ginseng extract had a 11.6-fold increase in osteocalcin as compared to the control group.
The group consuming ginseng also had a three-fold increase in their calcium level.
The WOMAC index, used to evaluate hip and knee osteoarthritis, also showed that the group taking 3g of ginseng extract per day had significant improvement as compared to the placebo.
The RDA would continue researching new functions of ginseng, as well as supporting the use of ginseng at the industrial scale, said Myeong Soo Kim, director of ginseng specialty at the National Academy of Horticultural Science at RDA.
“If ginseng, which is relatively undervalued as compared to red ginseng, is developed as a variety of health functional foods, it will greatly contribute to ginseng consumption,” Myeong said.
This is in line with the country’s overall strategy of promoting the exports of homegrown functional health foods, of which ginseng has been identified as one of them.
The MFDS earlier said support would be given to firms from July onwards for verification of the health functions of raw materials as well as providing technical support for manufacturing and safety evaluation.
The RDA had also conducted research on garlic and showed that it could lower cholesterol level. This in turn led to the recognition of garlic as a functional raw material for lowering cholesterol levels in 2014.