Although new antidiabetic agents are introduced, alternative medicine with natural compounds such as ginseng offer a potential benefit, as they have a wide margin of safety with no no side-effects. Following informed consent patients with type 2 diabetes (oral medication 80%, insulin therapy 20%) were randomly assigned to receive an extract of Siberian (480 mg/day; n = 27) American (Panax) ginseng (480 mg/day; n = 27), or a placebo preparation over a period of three months. Patients and physician were blinded as to the kind of ginseng being administered. Fasting (BZfast) and postprandial blood glucose level (BZpp), HbA1c, total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) levels were determined each week and at the end of each month. In addition, the degree of peripheral neuropathy was evaluated by an electrical stimulus at 5 Hz determining threshold levels for feeling of sensation and pain at both lower extremities at start and after each month of treatment. Contrary to placebo and Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng intake resulted in a highly significant decline (p < 0.001) of fasting blood sugar, and postprandial blood sugar level at the end of the three-month period. Also, Siberian ginseng lowered significantly (p < 0.001) HbA1c, TC and TG levels after the 12-week period. Patients taking Siberian ginseng demonstrated some recovery of sensory to an electrical stimulus. Since eleutherosides are only found in Siberian ginseng, they seem to contribute to the observed therapeutic effect, which may be due to their ability to blockade of P-glycoprotein, an ATP-dependent drug efflux pump, which is responsible for an increase in insulin resistance. Since Siberian ginseng induced no adverse side effects, its additional intake is able to fine-tune the pathological glucose metabolism, also reducing symtoms of peripheral polyneuropathy.
Article from International Journal of Clinical Nutrition