Ginseng and Diabetes

Ginseng and diabetes. can ginseng help in the management of diabetes or is this a far-fetched claim?

Diabetes mellitus continues to pose a significant threat to public health despite tremendous attempts to find a cure.

Studies show that 2.8% of the world’s population has diabetes.

Sadly by 2030, that number is projected to rise to 643 million and 783 million by 2045. 

Lifestyle changes like:

  • A majorly aging population,
  • Higher living standards, and the
  • Need for rapid economic development

are possible contributing factors to the growing numbers

The idea that hyperglycemia is the primary cause of microvascular and macrovascular problems is well supported by clinical trials

Problems such as renal failure, neuropathy, retinopathy, coronary and cerebral artery disorders, and amputation

Adequate blood glucose control is essential to prevent or reverse diabetic complications and enhance the quality of life for diabetic patients.

Oral hypoglycemic medications have been created and are often used, even though there is currently no known cure for type 2 diabetes.

However, even when used in combination, current drugs are insufficient in preserving long-term glycemic control in most patients, leaving people with diabetes vulnerable to developing life-threatening and crippling consequences. 

More effective therapeutic drugs with noble modes of action are therefore urgently needed.

From this perspective, using herbal remedies to prevent diabetes is an alternate, more practical, and fundamental approach to managing this terrifying condition. 


Ginseng is one of the medicinal herbs with the potential to manage diabetes.

The term “ginseng” in English is derived from the Chinese term rénshen (人蔘), which means “man root” (due to the root’s distinctive forked shape that resembles a man’s legs). 

The botanical/genus Panax shares the exact origin as “panacea,” which means “all-heal” in Greek. 

Both Asian and American ginseng roots are consumed orally as aphrodisiacs, adaptogens, and nutritional stimulants, as well as in managing type 2 diabetes and male erectile dysfunction. 

The second compilation of Materia Medica discovered ginseng’s anti-diabetic potential after the oldest complete Materia Medica, which dates back roughly 2000 years, first documented the herb’s therapeutic applications.

Since 1995, when Sotaniemi. Released a paper indicating ginseng’s anti-diabetic efficacy; this medicinal plant has garnered significant interest from diabetes researchers and the general population.

Following that, there has been steady advancement in understanding the therapeutic effectiveness and molecular processes of ginseng’s anti-diabetic characteristics. 

This review aims to provide information on ginseng’s medicinal, therapeutic, and action mechanism (and its constituent ingredients) as an anti-diabetes treatment. 


A review of 16 studies published in 2014 showed that patients with and without diabetes were compared in randomized trials in controlled groups for at least 30 days.

According to the resulting meta-analysis, the ginseng supplementation group had considerably lower fasting blood glucose levels than the control group.

A 2016 meta-analysis of 8 studies also revealed that utilizing ginseng as part of a treatment plan for type 2 diabetes reduced postprandial insulin,  fasting glucose levels, and insulin resistance.

Furthermore, the study discovered that consuming ginseng improved triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteins (LDL).

Research on hyperglycemic activities of ginsenosides

Since the 1980s, ginseng extract and its active components have been known to have hypoglycemic properties.

Panaxans and quinquefoliate, two glycans known to be hypoglycemic components, were identified from Asian ginseng and American ginseng in the 1980s. The ginsenosides are now widely acknowledged as the primary active components in ginseng.

In 2000, three long-term studies that looked into the effectiveness of ginseng in treating type 2 diabetes were published.

Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) improved in the first research after eight weeks of treatment with ginseng.

The second research found that ginseng (KRG) extract administered over 24 months reduced HbA1c by an undefined amount.

The third trial, which serves as the “proof-of-concept” for an acute clinical screening model used to choose ginseng with long-term efficacy and safety.  

When examining a chronic disease like diabetes, it is important to assess the long-term persistence of reduced blood glucose levels rather than the immediate hypoglycemia effect after a single dose.

This study examined fasting blood glucose levels 5 and 12 days following treatment. It was discovered that these compounds gradually lowered blood glucose levels in contrast to the short-term therapy trial. 

Factors that Affect Clinical Research Results

We look at all the studies mentioned above in the rest of this article. But before that, it is essential to note that clinical research results may be influenced by volunteer characteristics.

The volunteer characteristics would be things like such as:

  • physical activity
  • body weight
  • degree of diabetes
  • sample size.

The variation of ginseng extracts is another determining element—different ginseng components from various sources, species, or extraction techniques.

Different batches of ginseng may have various components, even when the same species and extraction method are used.

This affects the therapeutic efficacy.

Thus, characteristic detection and quality control are necessary for ginseng products to be used in therapeutic applications. 

With that said, let us look at the three significant effects of ginseng on diabetes.

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Effects of Ginseng on Diabetes

Ginseng boosts insulin sensitivity

Ginseng lowers blood sugar levels by boosting insulin sensitivity and beta-cell activity to enhance glycemic control. 

Studies show that ginseng fruit extract boosts insulin production and beta-cell proliferation. Ginseng berry extract also enhances insulin sensitivity by increasing Insulin gene activity.

Black ginseng extract enhances -cell function and decreases hyperglycemia by decreasing -cell apoptosis and improving glucose homeostasis structure. 

Studies were conducted to examine ginseng extracts’ anti-diabetic properties. Ginsenosides were discovered to lessen the signs of lowered insulin sensitivity and increased blood glucose brought on by the high-fat diet that caused type 2 diabetes.

Researchers discovered that ginsenosides enhance blood lipid profiles, liver function, and insulin resistance while lowering blood glucose and insulin resistance. 

These findings imply that one of the components in ginseng Rg1 is a possible supplementary therapy for type 2 diabetic patients with fatty liver disease. 

Heat-treated ginsenoside has also been studied in addition to the primary ingredients in fresh ginseng extracts. Ginsenoside Rg3, another component of ginseng, is produced when fresh ginseng is heated to produce red and black ginseng.

Although the administration of other ginsenosides has demonstrated hypoglycemic benefits, Rg3 is undoubtedly the primary active anti-diabetic component of ginseng when taken as a whole. 

Ginseng enhances glucose uptake

Ginseng improves glucose uptake by increasing the expression of glucose transporters (GLUT). In a 16-week research period, one percent fermented red ginseng dramatically reduced body weight and blood sugar.

The study also discovered that fermented red ginseng dramatically increased the expression of GLUT in the liver and muscle. This shows that ginseng lowers blood sugar by improving skeletal muscle’s ability to absorb glucose. 

The body weight, fasting blood glucose, and average blood sugar level dramatically lowered throughout an 8-week treatment with ginseng (FGE). 

Fermented ginseng extract intervention dramatically increases the expression of glucose transporters mRNA. (a form of single-stranded RNA involved in protein synthesis)

Also, it decreases the expression of glucose-6-phosphatase in liver tissues. 

Being a key enzyme in the liver’s gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis, glucose-6-phosphatase significantly impacts glucose homeostasis.

Fermented ginseng extract is also known to enhance the transport of blood glucose into the liver. This is the reason that there is decrease in blood glucose levels, as evidenced by its drop and rise in GLUT expressions. 

The studies above show that fermented ginseng extract protects the pancreas and enhances insulin synthesis and secretion. 

Ginseng suppresses oxidative stress

A reduction in the formation of muscular dystrophy and an increase in potent anti-inflammatory activity were described as side effects of ginseng therapy during a six-week study.

In a study, both advanced glycation end products and urine levels were reduced after receiving red ginseng extract for six weeks.

Also, red ginseng extract therapy reduced every symptom of diabetic nephropathy by reducing advanced glycation end-product buildup and oxidative stress in the kidneys. 

Ginseng decreased blood sugar, total cholesterol, triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein levels, and alanine and aspartate aminotransferase levels compared to the control groups.


Diabetes patients should seek medical advice before consuming ginseng due to its possible interactions with blood sugar medication.

Additional drug interactions that ginseng may cause include:

  • Medications to lower blood pressure
  • Antidepressants
  • Statins
  • Anticoagulants like warfarin
  • Calcium channel blockers 


Numerous processed ginseng extracts and certain ginsenosides have been demonstrated in human research to have advantageous effects on diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.

Products containing ginseng are typically sold as topical or oral supplements.

For usage instructions, one should read the packaging’s instructions. This should provide instructions on how much and how frequently the product should be used.

It is advised to speak with a doctor before using any ginseng products to ensure they are secure and appropriate for the user. 

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