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How Ginseng Works - Diabetes

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Ginseng has been commonly used in Oriental medicine to treat diabetes-like conditions, and the earliest recorded reference for this purpose is in the Compendium of Materia Medica (Ben Cao Gang Mu) by Dr Li in Ming Dynasty China (1368-1644). This is the most complete and comprehensive pre-modern herbal textbook. It is also recommended and used in North America for this purpose.

Ginseng - Glucose Metabolism and Diabetes There is a large body of scientific evidence on the beneficial effect of American ginseng for use in the management of diabetes and enhanced energy metabolism in the body in non-diabetic people. Much of this is from randomized placebo-controlled trials in people. There are numerous published scientific studies on American ginseng's mode of action in normalizing blood glucose. Although not fully understood, it appears to act in two ways. Firstly by improving sensitivity to insulin due to a sulfonylurea-like activity. This helps move glucose from the blood stream into the cells of the body where it is needed. Secondly, American ginseng has been found to increase the production of insulin by pancreatic B cells, and also reduce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in these cells.

Research in the USA demonstrates that American ginseng root powder significantly (p < 0.05) reduces post-prandial glucose in people with Type-2 diabetes, and also improves glucose tolerance in non-diabetic people. The dose generally used was 1 to 3 grams, and increasing this dose did not appear to confer addition benefit.

A 2003 review published in the US journal Diabetes Care examined all available clinical studies on herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements claimed to influence glycaemic control (that were published in English).108 trials were examined, and the quality of randomised placebo-controlled trials was assessed using the Jadad scale. The review concluded that the best evidence for efficacy from adequately designed randomised trials is available for Coccinia and Panax quinuefolius (American ginseng).

In the Journal American College of Nutrition (2003), Sievenpiper reported that American ginseng was more effective than Korean ginseng in lowering blood glucose. He speculated that differences in the levels of certain ginsenosides between the two species were responsible for their differing actions. His team also found that substandard ginseng with low ginsenoside levels [warning - make sure your ginseng is high quality!] did not reduce blood sugar.

Korean and US research published in Jan 2006 demonstrated that PPT ginsenosides (particularly Rf) increase the activity of key receptors that regulate lipid and glucose metabolism and fat differentiation. The authors concluded that these ginsenosides can improve insulin resistance associated with diabetes.

Chinese research (2003) has found that both American and Korean ginseng saponins inhibited the activity of pancreatic lipase by 90% and 35.2% respectively. Rc, Rb1 & Rb2 inhibited pancreatic lipase by 100, 96 and 97% respectively. They concluded that these results indicate the potential use of these saponins to treat obesity.

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Please note:
Any scientific information has been assembled by Simply Ginseng from reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals. We have tried to ensure it is clear, balanced and without bias. This information should not be construed as claims for any of our products. Always consult your health care professional.Use only as directed. Always read the label.
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