The same ingredient that boosts the flavor in a bite of burger may help diabetics with blood sugar and cholesterol. A new study suggests that the extract of a common onion bulb, Alium cepa, “strongly lowered” high blood sugar and total cholesterol levels in diabetic rats when it was given along with the anti-diabetic drug metformin. The study was presented at The Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego and noted on Medicalxpress.com.
Researchers at Delta State University in Abraka, Nigeria, worked with rats with medically-induced diabetes. Lead investigator Anthony Ojieh, MD, and his team gave metformin and varying doses of onion extract (in doses of 200, 400 and 600 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily) to the rats to see if the onion would enhance the drug’s effects. They also gave the same combinations to non-diabetic rats with normal blood sugar for comparison. Two control groups, one with diabetic rats and one with non-diabetic rats, received neither dose. Still another two groups of rats, one diabetic and one non-diabetic, received doses of metformin but not the onion extract.
The 400 and 600 mg/kg/day dose of onion extract reduced fasting blood sugar levels in diabetic rats by 50 percent and 35 percent respectively. The onion extract also reportedly lowered the total cholesterol level in diabetic rats, with the two larger doses again having the greatest effects.
"Onion is cheap and available and has been used as a nutritional supplement," said Ojieh in a release from the Endocrine Society. "It has the potential for use in treating patients with diabetes."
Several studies have suggested that chromium picolinate may also help diabetics reduce their high blood sugar levels and consequently help reduce medical events related to coronary heart disease. People have revered the healthy powers of the stinking rose for ages. Ancient Egyptian leaders took their oath of office with their right hand on a bulb and Greek Olympians would rub onions all over their bodies prior to competition.