American Ginseng Shown Effective in Treating Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers from the Pharmacy and Biochemistry Departments at Croatia’s University of Zagreb have confirmed that American Ginseng can improve and reverse type 2 diabetes.
The researchers reviewed a plethora of clinical studies done with American Ginseng – Panax quinquefolius – that have shown that it decreases glycemic response and increases insulin levels following meals. Because it assists insulin in escorting glucose through the cell membranes, providing energy to the cells and clearing the blood of glucose – this traditional herb used for thousands of years effectively improves and even reverses the condition of type 2 diabetes.
In one of these clinical studies – this from the University of Toronto, 19 human subjects – nine with type 2 diabetes and ten without diabetes – were tested after being given either placebo capsules or capsules containing American Ginseng. The subjects were given the treatments 40 minutes prior to eating, and their postprandial glycemic levels were tested following a 25-gram meal. The testing was repeated four separate times. This test is commonly called a postprandial glycemia test or a glucose challenge.
The researchers found that the American Ginseng significantly altered the “glycemic curve” by reducing glucose in the blood stream, while the placebo capsules had no effect. These effects occurred in both the diabetic subjects and the nondiabetic subjects.
The researchers concluded:
“American ginseng attenuated postprandial glycemia in both study groups. For nondiabetic subjects, to prevent unintended hypoglycemia it may be important that the American ginseng be taken with the meal.”
In another study done by some of the same researchers at the University of Toronto – published in the Journal Diabetes Care – ten type 2 diabetes patients with an average age of 63 were given either 3 grams, 6 grams or 9 grams of ground American Ginseng prior to a glucose challenge – postprandial glycemia test. In this test, the researchers again found the glycemic responses among the Ginseng-treated patients were significantly decreased, while the response among the placebo patients showed no effects.
Interestingly, the researchers found no significant difference in the response between the different doses of Ginseng. They concluded that:
“American Ginseng reduced postprandial glycemia irrespective of dose and time of administration. No more than 3 g AG was required at any time in relation to the challenge to achieve reductions. Because these reductions included glycemia at the 2-hour diagnostic end point, there may be implications for diabetes diagnosis and treatment.”
Other clinical studies have shown similar effects using American Ginseng. Postprandial glycemia – problems with glucose metabolism following eating – occurs amongst the majority of type 2 diabetes patients. In fact, research has found that about a third of type 2 diabetes patients have normal fasting glycemia. This means that their condition is related to insulin and/or glucose sensitivity amongst the cell membranes. And American Ginseng appears to alter this sensitivity.
American Ginseng has not only been used for centuries among Asian regions – where in Chinese Medicine it is known as Huaqishen. American Ginseng has been used for centuries by American Indians as well. Before Western Europeans obliterated these traditions, American Indians harvested American Ginseng throughout the Northeastern U.S. and Ontario.
The American Ginseng plant contains various saponins and other phytochemicals, including several unique constituents called ginsenosides.
Postprandial glycemia is also significantly related to cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attacks.
Written by Case Adams, Naturopath
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