February 19, 2016. The February 2016 issue of the journal Medicine published the results of a meta-analysis conducted by researchers at China's Zhejiang University which add evidence to a beneficial effect for ginseng in men and women with impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes.
For their research, Yun-mei Yang and colleagues selected eight trials that included 195 participants treated with ginseng and an equal number of control subjects. The analysis revealed improvements in fasting glucose, post-meal insulin levels and insulin resistance, as well as a reduction in triglycerides, and total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol among ginseng-treated subjects.
"The present meta-analysis is the first updated review to evaluate the efficacy of ginseng-related therapy in patients with type 2 diabetes or glucose intolerance," the authors announce. "Furthermore, our results demonstrate for the first time, an improved lipid profile (triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL) associated with ginseng-related therapy in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus or impaired glucose tolerance. Moreover, ginseng-related therapy was more effective in terms of hemoglobin A1c and fasting glucose levels, in drug naïve participants than those taking antidiabetic medications, probably due to the masking of the effect of ginseng by antidiabetic medications."
As possible mechanisms for ginseng, Dr Yang and colleagues suggest modulations of insulin production and secretion, glucose metabolism, glucose uptake and inflammation, and activation of the AMPK –activated protein kinase pathway. Their research suggests that ginseng may be more beneficial for patients who have not started antidiabetic drug therapies than those already being treated.
"The present results establish the benefit of ginseng supplementation in improving glucose control and insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus or impaired glucose intolerance," they conclude.