Anti-diabetic potential of Panax notoginseng saponins (PNS): a review

Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):510-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5026. Epub 2013 Jul 11.


Herbal medicines have traditionally played a major role in the management of diabetes in Asian countries for centuries. Panax notoginseng (Burk) F. H. Chen (Araliaceae) known as Tiánqī or san qi is a well-known medicinal herb in Asia for its long history of use in Chinese medicine. Qualified as 'the miracle root for the preservation of life', it has been used in China for 600 years, for treatment of various diseases. Panax notoginseng saponins (PNS) are the key active components. PNS have been widely used in China for treatment of cardiovascular diseases. However, scientific studies have shown a wide range of other pharmacological applications including anti-cancer, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agents, immunologic adjuvant and prevention of diabetes complications. Recently, hypoglycemic and anti-obesity properties of PNS have also been demonstrated. The present review highlights the effects of PNS on glucose production and absorption, and on inflammatory processes that seem to play an important role in the development of diabetes.

Keywords: Panax notoginseng; Panax notoginseng saponins; diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacology
  • China
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Panax notoginseng / chemistry*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry
  • Saponins / pharmacology*
  • Saponins / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Saponins