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Ginseng in prevention and treatment of diabetes

Ginseng in Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes
PI: Kenneth S. Polonsky MD, Busch Professor of Medicine and Chairman of the
Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine
Funding period: 10/1/04 – 9/30/05
Abstract
Subjects with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) are at particularly high risk for diabetes; over time, 50% or more will develop overt diabetes. Ginseng root is one of the most commonly
used natural remedies in the United States and has been purported to improve glucose tolerance
and prevent diabetes. Ginsenoside Re, a major constituent, has been implicated in the anti-
diabetic effects of ginseng. The already widespread use of ginseng by the general population
make it a potentially appealing agent for the prevention and/or treatment of type 2 diabetes, if
safety and efficacy could be demonstrated in carefully cont rolled clinical studies. The present
proposal details plans to study the metabolic effects of ginseng and ginsenoside Re in subjects
with impaired glucose tolerance. The specific aims are:
1. To determine the effect of ginseng extract and ginsenoside Re on: a) glucose tolerance, b)
basal glucose production, glucose disposal and lipolytic rate, and c) insulin action in adipose
tissue, liver, and skeletal muscle. The hypothesis will be tested that ginseng extract and
ginsenoside Re will improve glucose tolerance in subjects with IGT by decreasing basal glucose
production and lipolytic rates and enhancing insulin-mediated suppression of glucose Ra and
glycerol Ra, and stimulation of glucose Rd.
2. To determine the effect of ginseng extract and ginsenoside Re on pancreatic beta-cell
function. The hypothesis will be tested that ginseng extract and ginsenoside Re will improve
pancreatic beta cell sensitivity to glucose in subjects with IGT.
3. To determine the effect of ginseng extract and ginsenoside RE on skeletal muscle insulin
signaling.
The results from this study could lead to the development of a new and important approach to the
prevention and/or treatment of type 2 diabetes, if the hypotheses posed above prove to be correct
and if ginseng and/or ginsenoside Re are well tolerated.
Lay Summary
Impaired glucose tolerance is a condition associated with increases in plasma glucose
concentrations not severe enough to be classed as diabetic. However, over time a very high
proportion of subjects do progress to diabetes. In the present study, we will determine whether
ginseng root, a widely used natural remedy and ginsenoside Re, one of the active components of
ginseng, can improve glucose tolerance and enhance insulin secretion or insulin action. If
ginseng or ginsenoside Re could be demonstrated to possess these therapeutic actions, it would
become a very appealing agent that could be used worldwide to reduce the burden of diabetes.

Source: http://www.longerlife.org/research/research_2004/summaries/ginsing_polonsky.pdf

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