Traditional Chinese medicines stall progression of diabetes

Traditional Chinese herbal medicines hold promise for slowing the progression from prediabetes to an official diabetes diagnosis, according to new research accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Prediabetes is diagnosed an individual has developed elevated levels, but have not yet risen to the point of developing . People who are prediabetic face a heightened risk of developing type 2 as well as heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 79 million American adults age 20 years or older have prediabetes.

"With diabetes evolving into a serious public health burden worldwide, it is crucial to take steps to stem the flood of cases," said one of the study's authors, Chun-Su Yuan, MD, PhD, of the University of Chicago. "Patients often struggle to make the necessary lifestyle changes to control blood sugar levels, and current medications have limitations and can have adverse gastrointestinal side effects. Traditional Chinese herbs may offer a new option for managing , either alone or in combination with other treatments."

During the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 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, subjects took capsules of either the Chinese herb mixture, called Tianqi, or the placebo three times a day before meals. All participants received a month of lifestyle education at the outset of the trial and met with nutritionists several times during the course of the study. Subjects' glucose tolerance was measured on a quarterly basis.

At the end of the trial, 36 participants in the Tianqi group and 56 in the placebo group had developed diabetes. The analysis found taking Tianqi reduced the risk of diabetes by 32.1 percent compared with the placebo, after adjusting for age and gender. The overall reduction in risk was comparable to that found in studies of diabetes medications acarbose and metformin, and study participants reported few side effects from the Tianqi herbs. Tianqi includes several herbs that have been shown to lower blood glucose levels and improve control of after meals.

"Few controlled clinical trials have examined traditional Chinese medicine's impact on diabetes, and the findings from our study showed this approach can be very useful in slowing the disease's progression," said one of the study's lead authors, Xiaolin Tong, MD, PhD, of Guang'anmen Hospital in Beijing, China, said. "More research is needed to evaluate the role Chinese herbal medicine can play in preventing and controlling diabetes."

More information: The study, "Chinese Herbal Medicine Tianqi Reduces Progression from Impaired Glucose Tolerance to Diabetes: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multicenter Trial," appears in the February issue of JCEM.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Testing whether vitamin D delays onset of diabetes

Jan 09, 2014

Northwestern Medicine is looking for volunteers to take part in the first definitive, large-scale clinical trial to investigate if a vitamin D supplement helps to delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes in adults wh ...

Large study to examine if vitamin D prevents diabetes

Oct 22, 2013

Researchers have begun the first definitive, large-scale clinical trial to investigate if a vitamin D supplement helps prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in adults who have prediabetes, who are at high risk for developing type ...

Recommended for you

Economic burden of prediabetes up 74 percent over five years

Nov 20, 2014

The economic burden of diabetes in America continues to climb, exceeding more than $322 billion in excess medical costs and lost productivity in 2012, or more than $1,000 for every American, according to a study being published ...

Gynoid fat resists metabolic risks of obesity

Nov 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—The differences in the developmental profiles of upper-body and lower-body fat depots may explain their opposing associations with obesity-related metabolic disease, according to research published ...

Treating diabetes one meal at a time

Nov 19, 2014

Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050. The American Diabetes Association observes November as American Diabetes Month, and this year's theme is America ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.