Ginseng is an extremely beneficial herb for multiple aspects of human health, including helping individuals with diabetes. Diabetes occurs when an individual's blood glucose rises to levels consistently higher than normal, which is referred to as hyperglycemia. A link has been established between ginseng and diabetes, since the Asian root has proven capable of lowering blood glucose levels.
Diabetes: Causes and Triggers
There are two main kinds of diabetes: type 1 (youthful) and type 2 (adult). Both types of diabetes are a result of a problem processing insulin or a completely lack of it, which is needed to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. Usually diagnosed during childhood, type 1 diabetes is when the body does not produce any insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond to insulin properly, which is called insulin resistance. A person can develop diabetes through genetic predisposition or through lifestyle conditions, including smoking, lack of exercise, and a poor diet.
Why Is Ginseng Good for Diabetes?
Behind the benefits of red ginseng for diabetes lies the ability of the herb to increase insulin production. When there is a lack of insulin or the insulin is not being used correctly, the blood's glucose level keeps rising. By increasing insulin production, ginseng reduces glucose levels and keeps blood sugar levels balanced.
This herb's extensive medicinal value is mainly due to ginseng's glycosides, a naturally-occurring compound made up of a sugar and non-sugar moiety. Varying types and amounts of glycosides in ginseng are found in the different types of ginseng. Two true ginseng species, American or wild ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), are both beneficial in helping individuals with diabetes.
Many studies using wild ginseng (also known as American ginseng) with diabetic patients have discovered a decrease in blood glucose levels. A review published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2009) compared different studies and corroborated a relationship between the consumption of American ginseng and a stable glycemic index after meals for both diabetic and non-diabetic individuals.
Panax (Korean) Ginseng
Asian ginseng, also known as Korean, Chinese, or Panax ginseng, is known to help blood flow, lessen fatigue, boost the immune system, and improve mental performance and well-being. Panax ginseng helps in diabetic conditions by relieving oxidative stress and - similar to American ginseng - by reducing blood glucose.
Taking Ginseng for Diabetes
Both American and Asian Panax species can be consumed in a number of forms, including ginseng capsules, ginseng tea, ginseng extract, and ginseng powder. A daily dosage of 100 - 200 mg of ginseng have been proved to successfully control blood sugar in diabetic and non diabetic individuals.
In many Asian cooking traditions, ginseng is consumed raw and grated over food; however, due to its strong taste, many people prefer to mix it with honey in a tea or ground it into a powder with a larger dish.
Those seeking American or wild ginseng should make sure to get Panax quinquefolius, while those wanting to take Korean, Asian, or Chinese ginseng should look for Panax ginseng.
Both American and Asian ginseng have an hypoglycemic action, which not only balances blood glucose for diabetic patients, but also keep non-diabetic patients' glycemic index normal. However, be sure you always consult your doctor before starting a treatment with ginseng, read the labels before purchasing ginseng supplements, and follow the dosage as indicated.
- American Diabetes Association, Type 1, 2016/Type 2,2016
- Diabetes Care, Ginseng Therapy in Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetic Patients: Effects on psychophysical performance, glucose homeostasis, serum lipids, serum aminoterminalpropeptide concentration, and body weight, 1995
- University of Maryland Medical Center, American ginseng, 2014
- Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Ginseng on Hyperglycemia: Effects and Mechanisms, 2008.