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Ginseng berry extract shows promise for diabetes, obesity

An extract from the ginseng berry shows real promise in treating diabetes and obesity, reports a research team from the University of Chicago's Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research. In the June issue of the journal Diabetes, they show that the extract completely normalized blood glucose levels, improved sensitivity to insulin, lowered cholesterol levels, and decreased weight by reducing appetite and increasing activity levels in mice bred to develop diabetes.

For more than 2000 years, traditional Chinese medicine has used ginseng root to treat a variety of ailments. This study focused instead on substances found in the ginseng berry, which has very different concentrations of ginsenosides, the substances thought to be medically useful.

"Ginseng berry has a distinctive chemical profile and has not previously been used for therapy," said Chun-Su Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Chicago and director of the study. "We were stunned by how different the berry is from the root and by how effective it is in correcting the multiple metabolic abnormalities associated with diabetes."

Yuan's team, which included researchers from the Tang Center, anesthesia, clinical pharmacology and medicine, studied the effects of the extract, made from the pulp of the berry. They also studied one particular substance known as ginsenoside Re, which is concentrated in ginseng berries but quite scarce in the root.

They tested the extract by injecting it once a day into mice with a gene defect that causes weight gain and type 2 diabetes. They found that ---

  • Daily injections of 150 mg/kg of the ginseng berry extract restored normal blood-sugar levels in diabetic mice. Blood-glusoce levels fell from 222 mg/dl (quite high for a mouse) to 137 mg/dl (normal) within 12 days. T
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Contact: John Easton
jeaston@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
24-May-2002


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