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Old 01-08-2008, 10:25 AM
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Default Ginseng and Diabetes


It seems that ginseng and ginsenosides are beneficial for diabetes therapy. Although single ginsenosides have shown to have positive effects, whether a single component or a mixture of components maximizes the therapeutic effect of ginseng on diabetes is still unclear.

Many steps have been taken to standardize the usage of ginseng root through isolating specific ginsenosides, which is an effective way to maintain dosages and specificity. It is more than likely that ginseng affects not only the pancreas to increase insulin production but also other tissue to utilize insulin as well as decrease insulin resistance through its various components (15).

Ginseng root has been shown to be effective in cell cultures, animal studies, as well as clinical practice. Root extracts and components exhibited anti-hyperglycemic activities and reduced insulin resistance and increased insulin production. Since the mechanisms behind ginseng's effects have not yet been fully discovered, we cannot understand the full extent of its potential.

Ginseng root is able to increase insulin production and decrease cell apoptosis in pancreatic β-cells, which signifies that ginseng affects the pancreas directly. Also, ginseng has been shown to mediate various mechanisms related to muscle and fat tissue such as the GLUT4 pathway (see proposed mechanism of ginseng's activation in Fig. 1).

Despite the lack of sufficient widespread clinical, mechanistic studies and standardization for immediate therapeutic uses greatly hinders the possibility of practical applications, current reports of ginseng and ginsenosides point to the possibility of ginseng as a candidate for complementary diabetes therapy.

Figure 1. The mechanisms of ginseng activation proposed here in scheme summarizes that the active components of ginseng regulate Uncoupling Protein-2 (UCP-2), which results in a decrease in apoptosis and an increase of ATP production and thus insulin production, which will stimulates cellular glut4 activation to promote metabolism.
Ginseng also activates cytochrome-c related Bcl-2 expressing, leading to an inhibition of caspase-9 triggered apoptosis cascade (23). ‘+’: positive effects ‘-’: negative effects ‘solid-line arrow’: known actions ‘dotted-line arrow’: recently discovered actions.
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