Ginger extract may aid diabetes control

Tue, 07 Aug 2012
Ginger could be used to help improve long-term management of diabetes, a new Austalian study has revealed.

The common spice is already used to treat nausea, heartburn and indigestion, and is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Now researchers from the University of Sydney have found that it may be able to control blood sugar levels in diabetic patients by increasing the uptake of glucose into muscle cells without the need for insulin.

According to Basil Roufogalis, lead author of the study, "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 ."

Roufogalis and colleagues discovered that extracts from Buderim Ginger rich in gingerols boosted uptake of glucose. Specifically, the gingerols increased distribution of the GLUT4 protein, which appears on the surface of the skeletal muscle cells and allows transport of glucose into cells.

In people with type 2 diabetes, however, the skeletal muscles' ability to uptake glucose is significantly affected due to impaired insulin signalling and inefficiency of the GLUT4.

Professor Roufogalis explained: "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.

"It is hoped that these promising results for managing blood glucose levels can be examined further in human clinical trials," he added.

The research appears in the natural product journal Planta Medica.
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