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Chinese herbs stop diabetes as well as prescription drugs

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Chinese herb Tianqui studied for halting type 2 diabetes.

Anyone with a higher than normal blood sugar is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Your doctor may have told you have a condition known as pre-diabetes, which makes it important to reduce your risk factors for developing full-blown diabetes. Now researchers have shown a traditional Chinese herbal medicine can lower the chances of the disease.

The finding, published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), suggest the Chinese herb could be an option for anyone struggling with weight loss and diet who is at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Chinese herb Tianqi lowers diabetes risk by 32 percent

"With diabetes evolving into a serious public health burden worldwide, it is crucial to take steps to stem the flood of cases," said lead study author Chun-Su Yuan MD, PhD of the University of Chicago in a press release.

For their study the researchers compared he Chinese herb Tianqi or Tian Qi that is a mixture of 10 herbs to placebo among 389 pre-diabetic study participants at 11 research sites in China.

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Those in the study either took the Tianqi or a placebo, three times a day, before mealtime. They also received nutritional counseling and had their blood glucose levels monitored with a glucose tolerance test.

After the one-year trial, 36 people in the Tianqi group developed diabetes, compared to 56 in the placebo group, which equated to a 32.1 reduction in diabetes associated with taking the Chinese herb.

"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 in a media release. “More research is needed to evaluate the role Chinese herbal medicine can play in preventing and controlling diabetes.”

Compared to the diabetes drugs acarbose and metformin, there were fewer side effects. Tianqi was found to be just as effective for preventing diabetes as the prescription drugs after adjusting for age and gender.

"Chinese Herbal Medicine Tianqi Reduces Progression From Impaired Glucose Tolerance to Diabetes: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multicenter Trial"
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2013-3276
January 16, 2014

Image: Wikimedia Commons