Animal studies have indicated a potential for hypoglycaemic effects when used intravenously. Eleutherens A-G exert marked hypoglycaemic effects in normal and alloxan-induced hyperglycaemic mice (Hikino et al 1986) and eleutherosides show an insulin-like action in diabetic rats (Dardymov et al 1978). However, these effects have not been borne out in human studies (Farnsworth et al 1985) and may not relate to oral dosages of Siberian ginseng.
A small, double-blind, randomised, multiple-crossover study using 12 healthy participants actually showed an increase in postprandial plasma glucose at 90 and 120 minutes when 3 g Siberian ginseng was given orally 40 minutes before a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (Sievenpiper et al 2004). More recently, oral administration of an aqueous extract of Siberian ginseng was shown to improve insulin sensitivity and delay the development of insulin resistance in rats (Liu et al 2005). As a result further trials in people with impaired glucose tolerance and/or insulin resistance are warranted.
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