Do you worry about your sugar intake? Research shows that there might be an herbal fix for high blood sugar levels.
Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and refers to any of the 11 plant species of the genus Panax. While many plants share the name “ginseng” in their common names, they are not necessarily true ginseng plants. Asian, American, and Japanese ginseng are true ginseng plants, while Siberian ginseng belongs to a different genus.
Recently, ginseng has garnered attention in Western medicine, making an appearance in vitamin supplement stores and even in large grocery stores. Supplement labels claim a variety of health benefits, including improved energy and cognition, anti-inflammatory effects, and improved blood sugar levels. It sounds great, but can we believe these claims?
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To take a closer look at whether or not ginseng improves blood sugar levels, a meta-analysis of 16 trials was conducted in 2014. A meta-analysis is a study that combines results from multiple different studies, in order to get a larger sample size and a better overall picture of the data. A total of 770 participants—some with Type II diabetes and some without—were randomly assigned to either take a ginseng supplement or be part of the control group and take nothing. Fasting blood glucose, measured with a blood test after a prolonged period without eating, was then used to indicate the body’s ability to metabolize carbs and balance glucose levels. In a non-diabetic person, the body should effectively balance out glucose levels, but in a diabetic person, the body will not be able to do so, indicated by high levels of glucose in the blood. The data showed that ginseng consumption lowered the fasting blood glucose of both diabetic and non-diabetic patients.
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Due to limitations of this study, such as the length of the trials, more research needs to be done to confirm these findings. In the meantime, the data gives us hope that ginseng might be the sweet fix we’ve been looking for.
Feature Image Source: Ginseng by Eugene Kim