Ginger beneficial for diabetes in pregnancy — Study

GESTATIONAL diabetes mellitus (GDM) is one of the most common complications of pregnancy.  Although diet therapy, lifestyle change and physical activity are some of its treatments, many pregnant women cannot change their style easily. On the other hand, diabetic drugs are not routinely used yet.

Now, experts say that ginger can be useful in lowering the glucose of women with gestational diabetes mellitus. They found that treatment with ginger for six weeks could improve glucose status in women with gestational diabetes mellitus and prevent its consequences in pregnancy and suggested that because of the safety of this herbal medicine it can be part of treatments in future

The experts had studied the effect of ginger on blood glucose and insulin resistance in 70 women with gestational diabetes mellitus, who were in 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.  It was at the Prenatal Section of Arash Hospital in Tehran, Iran from April 2015 to April 2016.

Gestational diabetes, also called diabetes during pregnancy, is a form of high blood sugar affecting pregnant women. It can induce complications with labour and delivery, including having a stillbirth. Those who develop gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

In most cases, there are no symptoms. A blood sugar test during pregnancy is used for diagnosis. Treatment strategies include daily blood sugar monitoring, a healthy diet, exercise and monitoring of the baby. If blood sugar is too high, medication is required.

Ginger is a common ingredient that has long been used in various home remedies to treat and manage health conditions since time immemorial. Apart from being a staple ingredient in teas, ginger is used commonly as a herbal treatment for ailments like nausea, arthritis, migraine, lowering blood cholesterol level and indigestion.

In recent years, ginger has been used for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in human subjects. It increases insulin release and sensitivity.

In this study, the women were assigned to two groups of ginger or placebo. The ginger group received 126 tablets of ginger, and the placebo group received 126 tablets of placebo in three meals (after breakfast, lunch, and dinner) with their dietary regimen order for six weeks. At the first visit, a detailed history including demographic data and history of pregnancy was also obtained.

The blood sugar level two hours post-prandial (BS2hpp), fast blood sugar and insulin, as well as resistance to insulin, were determined before and six weeks after intervention.  This was in the 2020 edition of the BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.

They found that the average fast blood sugar, fasting insulin and level of resistance to insulin reduced significantly in the ginger group six weeks after intervention in comparison to the placebo group. But, the average blood sugar level two hours post-prandial did not show any significant reduction in the two groups.

According to them, a decrease in fasting blood sugar could reduce the number of women who needed to commence insulin therapy; this can be an improved outcome of pregnancy.

There was no significant difference between the ginger and placebo groups regarding the distribution of age, gestational age, Body Mass Index (BMI), housing situation, educational status, physical activity, daily dietary intake and occupation status at the beginning and end of the study.

Experts say that the beneficial effects of ginger on improving blood glucose level of pregnant women with gestational diabetes mellitus could be because it inhibits enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity as a whole, thereby leading to greater glucose absorption in the muscles.

Nonetheless, the researchers said for better results to further, confirm the blood sugar lowering effect of ginger in women with gestational diabetes mellitus, other studies with larger groups or longer duration of ginger consumption and different doses of ginger should be done.

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