Ginseng on Hyperglycemia: Effects and Mechanisms
It has been reported that American ginseng attenuates hyperglycemia and may present itself as a supplement to diabetes therapy. However, the lack of standardization in the usage of ginseng root leads to inconclusive results when applied to diabetes treatment. The mechanisms of American ginseng root in the treatment of diabetes remains a mystery. This greatly limits the effective utilization of American ginseng in facilitating diabetic therapy. Initiating studies have shown that American ginseng increases insulin production and reduces cell death in pancreatic β-cells. Also, studies have revealed American ginseng's ability to decrease blood glucose in type II diabetes patients as well as in streptozotocin-induced diabetic animals (STZ-diabetic mice). These data suggest that effects of ginseng in improving hyperglycemia may alter mitochondrial function as well as apoptosis cascades to ensure cell viability in pancreatic islet cells. This review briefly summarizes current knowledge of ginseng components and clinical studies related to diabetes. Further research will be needed to explore and identify the component(s) of ginseng, which may be responsible for the beneficial effects observed in animal studies which could then be extrapolated to human islets.