(NaturalNews) A common and popular herbal remedy may be able to help diabetics control their blood sugar and prevent serious complications, according to a study conducted by researchers from Aberystwyth University in Wales and the University of Toyama in Japan, and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
"These results clearly suggested that daily consumption of chamomile tea with meals could contribute to the prevention of the progress of hyperglycemia and diabetic complications," the researchers wrote
Researchers fed rats with Type 2 diabetes a chamomile-mimicking extract every day for three weeks, and observed a subsequent 25 percent drop in the animals' blood sugar levels. Based on these findings, the researchers believe that taking chamomile tea with meals might lead to similar benefits in humans.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body loses sensitivity to the sugar-regulating hormone insulin, leading to a dangerous rise in blood sugar levels. Over time, elevated blood sugar can destroy bodily tissues, leading to complications like diabetic neuropathy, blindness, and damage to the kidneys or circulatory system.
The researchers found that chamomile appeared to reduce the activity of an enzyme called aldose reductase, which plays an important role in sugar metabolism. Aldose reductase helps turn glucose into sorbitol, a different sugar. In diabetics, the buildup of sorbitol has been directly linked to neuropathy and blindness, as this sugar moves across cell membranes less freely than glucose and thus has a tendency to build up in nerve and eye tissue.
Chamomile, also known as manzanilla, has long been used as a home remedy to reduce stress, improve sleep, and alleviate complaints from colds to digestive upset to menstrual cramps. It is believed to contain more antioxidants than nearly any other natural dietary source.
"It is quite fascinating," lead researcher Robert Nash said. "It seems to be doing a lot of different things all at once."