There is an increasing number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes whose obvious symptom is high blood glucose levels. Since ginseng is a widely known medicinal herb that can be used in Herbal Medicine to promote healthy glucose levels, people will question that whether ginseng is good for type 2 diabetes.
The article will lead you to the studies of ginseng use in treating type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease. When the pancreas cannot secrete insulin normally, people will get high blood glucose, and this condition is commonly referred to as “insulin resistance”. In a word, type 2 diabetes is characterized by hyperglycemia, and low insulin or insulin resistance.
Since type 2 diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin, so people with type 2 diabetes rely on insulin supplementation to maintain body function.
Serious insulin resistance can directly lead to more diseases such as atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and dyslipidemia, which are all potential complications of type 2 diabetes. The treatment of type 2 diabetes shall focus not only on blood sugar control but also more including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, triglycerides, overweight, etc.
Ginseng and ginsenosides
Ginseng is a medicinal herb used for centuries in the East, known as the King of the herbs. The medicinal properties of ginseng come from its medicinal ingredients, called ginsenosides.
There are hundreds of ginsenosides identified in recent years. The naturally occurring ginsenosides like Rb1, Rg1, Rc, etc in ginseng are large-molecule and can be metabolized into rare ginsenosides such as Rg3, Rh2, Rk1, Rg5, aPPD, ect. The metabolized rare ginsenosides show higher bioactivity and absorption.
Ginsenosides have been reported to have brilliant anti-diabetic effects in lab and animal experiments. And some clinical studies show their potential benefits in treating diabetes.
Clinical studies of ginseng use in type 2 diabetes disease
A 2014 clinical trial published in the journal BMC Complement Altern Med revealed that the fermented red ginseng treatment lowered postprandial blood glucose and increased postprandial insulin levels among subjects with impaired fasting glucose or type 2 diabetes at the end of four weeks. However, these statistically significant effects haven’t been seen in fasting glucose, insulin, and lipid profiles, compared to the placebo group.
Different from the outcomes of the clinical trial in 2014, an Iranian research team found the positive effects of ginseng extract treatment on fasting glucose and fasting insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes. Compared to the placebo group, the ginseng group administrated 300 mg of ginseng extract daily for 6 weeks had a significant reduction in fasting glucose and fasting insulin. The researchers also examined the biomarkers of serum adipokines apelin and chemerin but there was no significant difference found.
A recent randomized controlled trial in 2021 investigated the effect of coadministration of enriched Korean Red Ginseng and American ginseng on cardiometabolic outcomes in type-2 diabetes.
A total of 80 participants with type 2 diabetes and hypertension were recruited and randomly assigned into the ginseng group (given 2.25 g/day of combined ginsenoside Rg3 and American ginseng) and the control group (given wheat-bran). The participants also received standard therapy care. After a 12-weeks intervention, the researchers found that ginseng treatment improved blood pressure and HbA1c and that the changing indicators of blood lipids including total cholesterol, non-HDL-C, triglycerides, and LDL-C showed the overall cardiometabolic benefits of the cotreatment of Rg3 and American ginseng. This outcome indicated that ginseng can be used as an adjuvant therapy with the standard first-line regimen.
These studies provide insight into the effects of ginseng use on treating type 2 diabetes, although they have small-size participants and short-term study lengths.
Although there were mixed results in the effects of ginseng on some biomarkers, ginseng showed some beneficial effects for type 2 diabetes patients in the clinical trials. The effects of ginseng use on type 2 diabetes still need further investigation at clinical levels in a more rigorous manner.