Made in China herbs hold promise for preventing diabetes

Chicago, Jan 17 (IANS): Traditional Chinese herbs may offer a new option for managing blood sugar levels, either alone or in combination with other treatments, to help people at risk of developing diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is diagnosed when an individual has developed elevated blood sugar levels, but glucose levels have not yet risen to the point of developing type 2 diabetes.

“Patients often struggle to make the necessary lifestyle changes to control blood sugar levels. Current medications have limitations and can have adverse gastrointestinal side effects,” said Chun-Su Yuan from University of Chicago.

To prove the role of Chinese herbs in controlling progression of diabetes, 389 participants at 11 research sites in China were randomly assigned to take either a capsule containing a mixture of 10 Chinese herbal medicines or a placebo.

For a year, parents took capsules of either the Chinese herb mixture, called Tianqi, or the placebo three times a day before meals.

At the end of the trial, 36 participants in the Tianqi group and 56 in the placebo group had developed diabetes, said the study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM).

The analysis found taking Tianqi reduced the risk of diabetes by 32.1 percent compared with the placebo, after adjusting for age and gender.

Tianqi includes several herbs that have been shown to lower blood glucose levels and improve control of blood glucose levels after meals.

According to the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas 6, India has 77 million people with pre-diabetes in whom, if altered glucose levels are detected early, the onset of actual diabetes can be postponed for several years with dietary and lifestyle changes.

“The findings showed this approach can be very useful in slowing the disease's progression,” said Xiaolin Tong of Guang'anmen Hospital in Beijing, China.

“More research is needed to evaluate the role Chinese herbal medicine can play in preventing and controlling diabetes,” he added.


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