Ginger extract could help control long term diabetes

by Sarita Sheth on August 8, 2012

Extracts were taken from Buderim ginger

Ginger has the potential power to control blood glucose and therefore help manage the high levels of blood sugar that create complications for long term diabetic sufferers, according to a study by scientists at the University of Sydney.

They found that extracts from Buderim ginger were able to increase the uptake of glucose into muscle cells independently of insulin.

‘This assists in the management of high levels of blood sugar that create complications for long term diabetic patients, and may allow cells to operate independently of insulin,’ said Professor Basil Roufogalis who lead the research.

He explained that the components responsible for the increase in glucose were gingerols, the major phenolic components of the ginger rhizome.

‘Under normal conditions, blood glucose level is strictly maintained within a narrow range, and skeletal muscle is a major site of glucose clearance in the body,’ he added.

The pharmacy researchers extracted whole ginger rhizomes obtained from Buderim Ginger and showed that one fraction of the extract was the most effective in reproducing the increase in glucose uptake by the whole extract in muscle cells grown in culture.

Analysis by colleagues in the University’s Faculty of Pharmacy, Dr Colin Duke and Dr Van Tran showed this fraction was rich in gingerols, particularly the [6]- and [8]-gingerols.

Work also undertaken to determine how the gingerols could increase glucose uptake showed an increase in the surface distribution of the protein GLUT4. When the protein localises on the surface of muscle cells it allows transport of glucose into cells.

In type 2 diabetic patients, the capacity of skeletal muscle to uptake glucose is markedly reduced due to impaired insulin signal transduction and inefficiency of the GLUT4.

‘It is hoped that these promising results for managing blood glucose levels can be examined further in human clinical trials,’ said Professor Roufogalis.

Buderim ginger is regarded as the finest in the world. It is grown in Queensland, Australia.

The study, carried out through an Australian Research Council Linkage grant, is published this month in the prestigious natural product journal Planta Medica.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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