Ginseng berry extract may improve glucose metabolism, says new RCT

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Drginseng
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Drginseng

Related tags: Blood sugar

Supplementation with ginseng berry extract could significantly decrease serum concentration of fasting glucose and postprandial glucose at 60 minutes in those with impaired glucose levels, compared to placebo.

“Anti-hyperglycemic effects of Panax ginseng berry have never been explored in humans,”​ the researchers argued in their report, an accepted manuscript due to publish in the Elsevier-published Journal of Ginseng Research​.

They hypothesized that ginseng berry extract may have more potent anti-hyperglycemic effects than its root because “while the ginseng root has long been the favored source of these active ingredients, recent studies have shown that the ginseng berry contains higher levels of ginsenoside content and with a distinct ginsenoside profile compared with the ginseng root,”​ the researchers wrote.

According to the report, the trial “failed to show significant anti-hyperglycemic effects of ginseng berry extract on the parameters related to blood glucose and lipid metabolism in the total study population,” ​but nonetheless, preliminary findings showed that there was potential for the extract to “improve glucose metabolism in humans, especially in those with fasting glucose level of 110 mg/dL or higher.”

Study design: The extract capsule

Panax ginseng ​berry and placebo capsules were provided by Korean firm Amorepacific Corporation. The extract was made out of freshly harvested 4-year-old Korean ginseng berry. The seeds were separated and the pulp and juice were dried in hot air.

The dried berries were then refluxed with 70% ethanol for 10 hours, and then filtered and evaporated under vacuum at 45 degrees Celsius. There were seven major ginsenosides in the berry extract that were analyzed. Each 500mg capsule contained 250mg of standardized ginseng berry extract. Placebo capsules were identical in appearance and flavor to the ginseng berry capsules.

The participants and protocol

Participants were recruited in Dongguk University Ilsan hospital. Applicants were screened and admitted if their fasting blood glucose was within a range of 100-140 mg/dL and aged between 20 and 75 years.

The study was designed as a single-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial lasting 12 weeks. Participants were randomly assigned to receive ginseng berry extract or placebo by using a computerized method of list generation. Clinical visits were done at weeks 0, 6, and 12 during the trial, and participants were asked to take four capsules (two capsules at a single time before breakfast and dinner) of either the extract or placebo daily throughout the 12 weeks.

Ginseng berry extract has the potential to improve glucose metabolism in pre-diabetic humans

During the duration of the study, 63 participants completed the whole 12-weeks without any major protocol violations with a compliance rate of over 70%.

Parameters of glucose or lipid metabolism were not different before and after intervention for both groups as a whole. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the lipid profile in the same time period for both groups as well.

But isolating participants with fasting glucose level of 110 mg/dL or higher, researchers found that serum concentration of fasting glucose significantly decreased by 3.7%, and postparandial glucose at 60 minute during the 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) also decreased significantly (10.7%).

According to the report, the findings suggest that “ginseng berry extract may be more beneficial to people with higher glucose levels,” ​the researchers wrote.

Limitations of the study included an only slightly higher than normal level of fasting glucose, making it difficult to find a significant change in parameters in glucose metabolism, as well as the lack of follow-up data in the dropouts. However, the researchers argued that this preliminary study shows ginseng berry’s potential for the pre-diabetic population.

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Source: Journal of Ginseng Research
Accepted Manuscript, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jgr.2017.01.003
"Efficacy and safety of ​Panax ginseng berry extract on glycemic control: A 12-week randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial"
Authors: Han Seok Choi, et al.

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