American ginseng (AG, Panax quinquefolius) and Korean red ginseng (KRG, Panax ginseng) are the two most commonly-used types of ginseng in the world, proving to be an alternative medicine option for patients with type 2 diabetes. A team of scientists from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada, conducted a study to determine the degree to which ginseng can actually affect insulin sensitivity.
13 healthy, non-diabetic individuals between the ages of 28 and 32, with an average body mass index (BMI) of 27 who had no prior use of health products containing ginseng, were given 10 random treatments on separate occasions. The treatments consisted of whole-root extracts, alcohol extracts from both KRG and AG at three different concentrations, and two cornstarch placebos. Each individual received three grams per treatment, and patients were instructed to maintain a consistent diet along with an exercise routine throughout the study. In order to reduce "carry-over effects," individuals had to wait three days between treatments.
Prior to the day of analysis, subjects had to follow a 10 - 12-hour overnight fast and a fasting blood sample was drawn to start things off. Following this procedure, each individual was randomly given one of the 10 treatments followed by 300 mL of water. 40 minutes in, another blood sample was obtained and subjects were asked to consume 50 grams of glucose mixed into 250 mL of water. Finally, another set of blood samples was collected at 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 minutes after glucose consumption.
According to the data collected, based on the Insulin Sensitivity Index (ISI), the consumption of both KRG and AG extracts increased insulin sensitivity levels.
These results suggest that other forms of ginseng may influence insulin parameters as well.
While this study found that both American ginseng and Korean red ginseng - along with a balanced diet and exercise - can positively boost insulin levels in young, healthy adults, it does not suggest or predict a successful treatment in overweight individuals with pre-existing insulin resistance.
- Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Ethanol extraction preparation of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L) and Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer): Differential effects on postprandial insulinemia in healthy individuals, 2015