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American Ginseng May Help Control Diabetes

Updated: Saturday, Jul 25,2009, 4:05:22 PM
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Unfortunately, there has been a lack of research surrounding ginseng s healing properties. Although it has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years, most of the claims attributed to ginseng have been based on anecdotal evidence, with few scientific tests performed on human subjects.

Ginseng is one of the most frequently used herbs in Asian healing. Traditional beliefs hold that ginseng plays a vital role in the balance of yin and yang and helps restore harmony to certain body systems. It is often used by health practitioners as a tonic and is believed by some cultures to cure conditions ranging from the common cold to male infertility.


The findings suggest that American ginseng could have important implications for the treatment and prevention of diabetes mellitus, a disease that affects nearly one in every 12 North American adults. The study also shows an improvement in the quality of research now being conducted on herbal medicines in the United States, while continuing to highlight the need for larger, long-term studies.

New research recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that at least one species of ginseng may be of therapeutic value. According to a study conducted at the University of Toronto, taking American ginseng before a meal appears to produce 'significant reductions' in blood sugar in people both with and without diabetes.

In the study, scientists divided test subjects into two groups. One group consisted of nine patients diagnosed with Type II diabetes, the most common form of the disease. The other group was composed of 10 non-diabetic patients.

Based on their observations, the scientists believe ginseng may be a viable alternative to traditional forms of diabetes treatment. Previous studies have shown that patients with Type II diabetes who watch their diet and control sugar intake have fewer complications than those who do not,4 and that a reduction of blood sugar in the diet decreases the risk of developing diabetes in men and women.Ginseng, the scientists feel, may hold the same potential as insulin or other medications in helping people control (or even prevent) diabetes.

'Implications of our preliminary findings are promising,' the researchers concluded. 'If this improvement in control could again be accomplished by a decrease in the GI (glycemic index) of the diet affected by ginseng, then it may prove a useful adjunct to the conventional treatment of diabetes mellitus. In short, either use may offer a new way to use an old medicine.'

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