(NaturalNews) A recent study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) has revealed that a particular Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formula helped to slow the progression from pre-diabetes to a full-blown diagnosis of diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is a condition whereby a person has elevated blood sugar levels but not yet to the point of developing type 2 diabetes. Individuals with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of not only type 2 diabetes, but also stroke and cardiovascular disease.
The study encompassed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial which involved 420 subjects (of which 389 completed the trial) at 11 different sites in China. For a 12-month period, they consumed either capsules of Tianqi or a placebo thrice per day before each meal. The study subjects were also given a month of lifestyle education at the start of the study while meeting nutritionists numerous times during the year. Glucose tolerance was measured every three months.
Tianqi is a TCM formula containing 10 herbal medicines which is used in China to treat type 2 diabetes. Some of those herbs had been previously shown to help lower blood sugar levels and boost the control of post-meal blood glucose levels.
At the end of the study, 56 in the placebo group developed diabetes, while only 36 of those taking Tianqi developed the condition. After adjusting for age and gender, the study team found that Tianqi lowered the risk of developing diabetes by 32.1 percent as compared to the placebo. This was comparable to the figures obtained in studies of diabetes drugs acarbose and metformin.
Further, more subjects in the Tianqi group than in the placebo group had normal glucose tolerance when the study ended - 63.13 percent versus only 46.60 percent.
Significantly, the study subjects who took Tianqi did not experience any severe side effects. Thus, not only was the herbal formula effective in preventing diabetes and improving blood sugar control, it was also safe to consume.
"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 Xiaolin Tong, MD, PhD, from Guang'anmen Hospital in Beijing, China, one of the leaders of the study.
"With diabetes evolving into a serious public health burden worldwide, it is crucial to take steps to stem the flood of cases. 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 blood sugar levels, either alone or in combination with other treatments," said Chun-Su Yuan, MD, PhD, from the University of Chicago, another of the study's authors.
How TCM can help diabetics
TCM practitioners typically treat diabetes with a combination of acupuncture and herbs, for example astragalus, wild yam and rehmannia. TCM could help stabilize blood sugar levels by improving the health of the endocrine system. It could also help improve circulatory issues and also slow down the process of neuropathy.