Menopause and immune health: Korea Yakult develops fermented red ginseng product with patented tech
The company was formed by the joint venture between Japanese probiotic cultured milk firm Yakult and Yoon Deok-byeong, a Korean investor in 1969.
It recently launched a liquid sachet fermented red ginseng on its online store Freshmanager, official website, as well as offline partners, including department and large discount stores.
The product is made up of six-year-old ginseng concentrate which has undergone 18 hours of fermentation.
The purpose of the fermentation is to increase the content of ginsenoside present in the red ginseng, Il Seok Choi, manager at Korea Yakult said in response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia.
Ginsenoside is the bioactive component of ginseng. There are six major types of ginsenosides, namely Rb1, Rb2, Rc, Rd, Re, and Rg1.
“It has been fermented for 18 hours with two types of Bifidus bacteria. Through this, the original flavour of red ginseng and the content of ginsenoside are enhanced.
“Middle-aged women in menopause are suffering from the COVID-19 situation and menopausal symptoms. Therefore, we have developed a product that can relieve menopause as well as improving the immunity of middle-aged women,” Choi said, adding that the company spent seven months in the product R&D.
In South Korea, health functional foods containing ginseng could bear claims related to improving the immune health, as announced by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS).
The other two claims it can make are related to improving bone health and reliving fatigue.
Existing in vitro and animal studies have shown that ginseng exhibit immunomodulatory effects by a number of ways, including improving the natural killing activity and alleviating atopic dermatitis by decreasing inflammatory cytokines, but further in-depth studies are required.
On the other hand, pagoda tree fruit extract is added to relieve menopausal symptoms.
Certified by regulator MFDS as a health functional food material, Choi said pagoda tree fruit extract has been found to be effective in reducing facial redness, insomnia, fatigue, and headaches in the menopause evaluation index (the Cooperman Index) through human application tests.
The method used to ferment the red ginseng was granted a patent in 2019.
It involves fermenting the red ginseng with the company’s patented probiotic strains, namely Bifidobacterium animalis sp. lactis HY8002 and Bifidobacterium adolescentis HY8502, for 18 hours.
Last year, Yakult Korea also published a study on how the gut microbiota plays an important role in affecting the bioavailability of Rg ginsenosides.
The study, published in the Journal of Ginseng Research, involved 34 healthy subjects, who took either red ginseng or fermented red ginseng.
It was found that the “area under the serum concentration–time curve values of ginsenosides” was higher in subjects who took fermented red ginseng.
For example, the value of the ginsenoside Rd was 8.20 ± 11.95 ng·h/mL for the group which took red ginseng, but much higher at 187.90 ± 95.87 ng·h/mL in the group which took fermented red ginseng.