Ginseng is well-known for its use as an energy tonic. Asians have been using ginseng as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. Now North Americans have jumped on the bandwagon, too. Most corner stores have tiny bottles for sale that contain the gnarled root. Ginseng is touted as a herb that promotes long life, strength, and wisdom to those who take it.
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These days, studies are being done to find out if ginseng could help cure or prevent many of the common diseases afflicting North Americans. Near the top of the list is diabetes. Ginseng has a complicated performance record when it comes to lowering blood sugar. Some reports suggest Asian or Korean ginseng might actually raise blood sugar, while Panax ginseng is thought to lower blood sugar. According to medical experts, the different effects are caused by a particular substance in ginseng called “ginsenoside.” It seems that each type of ginseng has its own brand of ginsenosides.
So which type of ginseng should you take to combat type 2 diabetes? One clinical trial says red ginseng is the way to go if you are looking for a natural diabetes cure to lower your blood glucose levels.
Forty-five participants with impaired fasting glucose were recruited for the study. These participants were divided into three groups: one received “cheonggukjang” (a fermented soy paste), a second was given 20 grams/day of red ginseng, while the third acted as control.
The study lasted for eight weeks, after which the research team evaluated the patients. They found that supplementation with cheonggukjang and red ginseng significantly decreased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in the participants — by almost 30% in the cheonggukjang group and 24% in the red ginseng group. Fasting blood sugar was also significantly lower in both groups when compared to levels at the outset of the study.
The researchers concluded that cheonggukjang and red ginseng could lower blood sugar levels and improve the lipid profile of people with impaired fasting glucose.
Before you try ginseng, get your doctor’s advice — especially if you’re already taking medication to treat diabetes.