• Herbs Prevent Diabetes: Can These Chinese Herbs Work?

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    Diabetes is out of control in the U.S., with incidence rates as high as 15-20% in some population groups (e.g., the elderly, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans), and with substantial increases in all age and racial groups in the past few years. Chinese medicine, relying mainly on herb formulas, but also on acupuncture, has been utilized extensively in East Asia to reduce blood sugar in persons with diabetes, especially those with the most common type (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, NIDDM). Based on extensive laboratory and clinical evaluations, about 20 herbs have emerged as primary candidates for treatment. These herbs have been utilized in a small number of traditional formulations for centuries, both for treating obvious diabetes and for other disorders that produce similar symptoms. Acupuncturists have identified about 20 points on the body that appear to be effective in lowering blood sugar; typically, a dozen of these points are selected for treatment at one time. Although more clinical research needs to be done to demonstrate the level of effectiveness of the herbs and acupuncture, these methods of therapy are currently available in many locations in the Western cultures as a result of the increasing acceptance of Chinese medicine during the past three decades. This article outlines the history and development of Chinese approaches to diabetes and reveals the currently accepted concepts. A second article will present treatment for secondary effects of diabetes, such as impairment of circulation and resulting damage to the eyes, peripheral neuropathy, and increased risk of heart attack.

    There are many types of remedies other than conventional drug therapies available for diabetes that have been used for many years. Some of these have received some research interest and most have not.

    Recently, some research conducted in China has indicated that the use of 10 Chinese herbs used in one capsule can prevent patients who have metabolic syndrome from progressing to full-blown type 2 diabetes.

    Metabolic syndrome is a pre-diabetic state associated with impaired glucose tolerance. Impaired glucose tolerance means that people cannot process glucose properly from their food due to insulin resistance.

    The trial consisted of 420 participants who were randomly selected to receive either of two treatments. The first group received the tianqi herbal supplement and the other group were offered a placebo capsule. This was a double blind experiment meaning that neither the participants nor the researchers knew who was receiving the active treatment. The subjects underwent glucose tolerance …

    The researchers considered data from 16 clinical trials including 1,391 people who received 15 different herbal formulations. According to their findings, combining herbal medicines with lifestyle changes is twice as effective as lifestyle changes alone at normalising patients’ blood sugar levels. Those given the herbal formulations were less likely to develop full blown diabetes during the study period. Trials included in the review lasted from one month to two years. No adverse effects were reported in any of the trials.

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