British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Panax ginseng has no effect on indices of glucose regulation following acute or chronic ingestion in healthy volunteers

Jonathon L. Reaya1 c1, Andrew B. Scholeya2, Anthea Milnea1, J. Fenwicka3 and David O. Kennedya1

a1 Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK

a2 NICM Centre for Study of Natural Medicines and Neurocognition, Brain Science Institute, Swinburne University, Melbourne VIC 3122, Australia

a3 Clinical Biochemistry, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, Gateshead NE9 6SX, UK


In the absence of effective pharmacotherapy for diabetes there has been an increase in the use of, and research into, alternative treatment strategies. These include exercise, dietary interventions and the use of supplements including extracts of ginseng. Two separate, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over studies investigating the effects of chronic ingestion of Panax ginseng (study 1 used G115, study 2 used Cheong Kwan Jang) on glycated Hb (HbA1c; study 1, n 18; study 2, n 11), fasting plasma insulin (study 1, n 17; study 2, n 12), fasting plasma glucose and postprandial response (following breakfast) (study 1, n 23; study 2, n 14) in healthy volunteers are reported. In both studies it was found that Panax ginseng had no effect on any gluco-regulatory parameter investigated. These results are not consistent with those reported for a diabetic sample (albeit using slightly different outcomes). These results would suggest that chronic use of Panax ginseng by non-diabetic individuals will have little long-term effect on glucose regulation. The benefits to glucose regulation associated with long-term ginseng use may only be present in populations with compromised glucose control; however, further research is needed to confirm such a speculation.

(Received March 28 2008)

(Revised September 10 2008)

(Accepted September 12 2008)

(Online publication November 19 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Jonathon L. Reay, fax +44 191 2273190, email


Abbreviations: HbA1c, glycated Hb