Asian herbs showing utility for diabetes and blood-sugar control

Asian herbs showing utility for diabetes and blood-sugar control

In recent months, herbals have been in the media for the wrong reasons. The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recalling Chinese herbals containing the cytotoxic Aristolochia and a damning, if poorly written and researched, review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology have left the industry shaken. However, recent trials are still highlighting the health-enhancing benefits of herbs for use in diabetes.

Cirsium japonicum: This is a traditional Chinese herb used along with other herbs to treat hypertension, traumatic haemorrhage, inflammation, and renal cellular injury. In a 2010 study, a researcher isolated two flavones from CJ and assessed their anti-diabetic effect in diabetic rats fed a high-carbohydrate/high-fat diet.

The results of the study demonstrated that the CJ extracts provided anti-diabetic effects in diabetic rats by improving the plasma glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides profiles. The researchers went on to conclude that, an anti-diabetic effect of CJ was revealed in diabetic rats, suggesting its potential benefit as an alternative therapy in treating diabetes mellitus. However, human trials are required before solid data can be extrapolated.

Tridax procumbens: This common herb found in India is used by tribal inhabitants of Udaipur district in Rajasthan to treat diabetes. In a recent trial, extracts of this plant were prepared and tested for their potential anti-diabetic activity.

An extract of the whole plant was tested for acute and sub-chronic anti-hyperglycaemic activity in diabetic rats and also for toxicity in normal rats. Oral administration of T. procumbens extract significantly reduced fasting blood glucose levels in diabetic rats, with no decline in rats with normal blood glucose. What was also of interest in this trial is that there were no visible signs or symptoms of toxicity offering hope of further research of this novel herbal in humans.

For the greater story of functional ingredients for blood-sugar control, check out the upcoming issue of Functional Ingredients, which should arrive on your desk at the end of this month.

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