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With the prevalence of type 2 diabetes expanding rapidly on a global scale, and an estimated 366 million expected to be diagnosed with the condition by 2030, ginger's potential to alleviate suffering is truly amazing. It is safe, affordable, accessible and, according to a growing body of clinical research, a potential therapeutic agent for diabetes associated health problems.
A new study on ginger's health benefits to type 2 diabetics published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine suggests that this household spice may provide millions suffering with the condition a natural alternative to diabetes medications – many of which have serious, even life threatening, side effects.
This study follows closely on the heels of another, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, which showed that 1600 mg of ginger administered for 12 weeks improved 8 distinct markers of type 2 diabetes.
In the new study titled, "The effect of ginger powder supplementation on insulin resistance and glycemic indices in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial,"[i] Iranian researchers sought out to identify herbal products effective in addressing insulin resistance, a condition where the body is incapable of properly utilizing or responding to insulin, leading to elevated blood sugar, among many other deleterious effects. They chose ginger, owing to the robust body of research already extant indicating its value in diabetes, and looked specifically at its effects in regulating blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity.
The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involved 81 type 2 diabetics, with a mean age of about 50, who were randomly assigned into ginger (GG) and placebo (PG) groups. The GG received 3 one-gram capsules containing ginger powder whereas the PG received 3 one-gram microcrystalline-containing capsules daily for 8 weeks. The following parameters were evaluated:
- HbA1c – an indication of damage to the red blood cells caused by the oxidation of sugars (glycation)
- Fructosamine – a harmful compound produced as a byproduct of result of sugar reacting with an amine
- Fasting blood sugar (FBS)
- Fasting insulin
- Homeostasis model assessment insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR)
- β-cell function (β%) – a cell type within the pancreas responsible for producing insulin
- Insulin sensitivity (S%)
- Quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI)
The results of the intervention were significant and positive:
- The mean fasting blood sugar decreased 10.5% in the ginger group, from 171.3 ml/dl to 153.12 mg/dl, whereas the mean increased 21% in the placebo group, from 136.17 mg/dl to 153.73 mg/dl.
- The HbA1c decreased from 8.2 to 7.7 in the ginger group, and increased from 6.9 to 8.2 in the placebo group.
- Insulin resistance was lowered, as determined by increases in the QIUCKI index in the ginger treated group.
The researchers concluded:
"This study demonstrated that daily consumption of 3 g of ginger in capsules for 8 weeks by patients with type 2 diabetes leads to lowering FBS [fasting blood sugar] and HbA1c means as well as variation in fasting insulin, insulin resistance, increase of sensitivity to insulin and QUICKI index. Therefore, consumption of this supplement is appropriate for patients; for identifying its other effects, however, some further studies are needed."
For additional research on the health benefits of ginger visit our research database on the topic: Ginger Health Benefits. Also, if you are interested in learning about the healing properties of spices, visit our resource page on the topic: Health Guide: Medicinal Spices.
[i] Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, Behrouz Talaei, Beman-Ali Jalali, Azadeh Najarzadeh, Mohammad Reza Mozayan. The effect of ginger powder supplementation on insulin resistance and glycemic indices in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb ;22(1):9-16. Epub 2014 Jan 8. PMID: 24559810