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Issue 113 Item 18 Ginseng Berry Extract Treats Obesity

Obese diabetic mice treated with an extract of Panax ginseng berries shed weight and demonstrate significant improvement in glucose homeostasis, investigators from the University of Chicago report in the June issue of the journal Diabetes. Their studies also demonstrate an antidiabetic action of ginsenoside Re, the major constituent of the ginseng berry extract.

Dr. Anoja S. Attele and colleagues treated obese diabetic mice and their lean normoglycemic littermates with daily intraperitoneal injections of Panax ginseng berry extract 150 mg/kg of body weight for 12 days.

In obese mice, fasting blood glucose levels began to decline on day 5 and reached normal on day 12. "More importantly," the authors say, "intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test results normalized after treatment."

Extract-treated obese mice also showed a significant reduction in body weight and plasma cholesterol levels, along with a "very significant" increase in energy expenditure and body temperature. Extract-treated mice ate 15% less than untreated mice, and were 35% more active.

Administration of ginsenoside Re alone also produced dose-dependent antidiabetic effects in obese mice but had no effect on body weight.

Control mice did not respond to the glucose-lowering effects of Panax ginseng berry extract or ginsenoside Re.

"This is the first report demonstrating that ginseng berry and ginsenoside Re can be used to treat diabetes," the authors say. "In addition, the identification of a significant antihyperglycemic activity of ginsenoside Re may provide an opportunity to develop a novel class of antidiabetic agent," they add. Diabetes 2002;51:1851-1858.