North American ginseng helps control diabetes

Several well researched herbs are used to help control type 2 diabetes. Now, new Canadian research supports the use of another.

This small double-blind study compared North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) to a placebo in 24 type 2 diabetics who were already on medication. The 20 week study was conducted at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Half the diabetics added a placebo to their medication while the other half added 1g of North American ginseng 40 minutes before each meal for a total of 3g of ginseng a day. The people in the study were between 45 and 75 and had had diabetes for at least a year.

At the end of the study, HbA1c had dropped by a significant .29%. Drops of .3% are considered clinically relevant, so this improvement is borderline clinically relevant. HbA1c is the most important marker of long term diabetes and blood sugar control. Fasting blood glucose was significantly lower in the ginseng group than in the placebo group.

Diabetes increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. So, it is encouraging that, compared to placebo, the ginseng significantly lowered systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, the dangerous LDL cholesterol, the ratio of total cholesterol to LDL cholesterol and the ratio of LDL cholesterol to the beneficial HDL cholesterol. The North American ginseng also improved blood vessel function by significantly increasing nitric oxide. Nitric oxide improves the flexibility of the blood vessels and causes narrowed blood vessels to relax and expand, which increases blood flow and oxygen.

This study suggests that North American ginseng may be a valuable addition to medication for managing type 2 diabetes.

Eur J Nutr 2018;doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1642-0

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