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By Stephen Luntz

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Glucose Absorption Gingered Up

Ginger has been used as a traditional medicine for many diseases, but its application to diabetes has been overlooked. Both animal and cell culture studies suggest it may assist with the uptake of blood glucose into muscle cells.

“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,” says Prof Basil Roufogalis of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy. However, Type 2 diabetes interferes with glucose uptake, at least partly by reducing the efficiency of the GLUT4 protein, which helps to transport glucose into muscle cells.

While insulin is normally considered responsible for controlling this transportation, Roufogalis has shown that ginger can also play a role. “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 says.

Keen to discover the ginger chemicals responsible, and the mechanism, Roufogalis conducted chromatographic fractioning on a ginger extract solution, producing seven fractions distinguished by polarity. Two fractions demonstrated a capacity to induce glucose uptake in tissue cultures, with the most effective rich in gingerols – the chemicals...

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