Originally published April 22 2008
Lead in Diabecon? An Ayurvedic Anti-Diabetes Herbal Complex Gets the Test
by John Cole
(NaturalNews) An Ayurvedic herbal formula named Diabecon was first brought to my attention last year by my assistant. The Japanese pronunciation is "daya" + "bacon", but no... there is no connection to nitrated pork bellies. The name is obviously constructed from "diabe" of "diabetes", plus "con", meaning contra, against. My assistant's university professor originally got some for his mother, who was diabetic; after studying it, he decided to use Diabecon as a supplement. My assistant told me the roughly 50 year-old professor has a beautiful, naturally dark head of hair, which he attributes partly to Diabecon.
Diabecon is basically an Ayurvedic herbal blend, and some of the herbs grow only in India, near the Himalayas. It consists of 42 different herbs including the well-known ashwagandha. According to one scholarly article, "Diabecon (D-400) is a crude herbal preparation, formulated as per Ayurvedic principles. The main ingredients are Eugenia jambolana, Tinospora cordifolia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Ficus Glomerulata, Momordica charantia, Ocimum sanctum and Gymnema sylvestre which are well known indigenous oral anti-diabetic plants".
In a variety of animal and then human tests, Diabecon has been shown effective against non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, also known as adult-onset or mature-onset diabetes. It produced significant decreases in both fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels after 12 weeks of treatment in newly diagnosed diabetic patients as well as in patients who had already been taking oral hypoglycemic agents (some had also been using insulin). Articles on Diabecon's effectiveness against diabetic retinopathy and dyslipidemia in humans also exist. Its safety has been repeatedly documented. (1)
Although I've never been diabetic or even borderline, just out of intellectual curiosity, I started taking three tablets of Diabecon a day as a supplement (the dosage recommended for diabetics is two tablets, two or three times a day). One evening about six months later, two girls sitting at the back of my English class were looking at me, whispering to each other, giggling... Finally, after a little prying from me, one girl asked me if I'd been dyeing my hair! Me? Dyeing my hair?! No way! I'm not that vain, and I'm aware of the toxic chemicals found in most hair dyes. After that lesson I took a good look in the mirror, and indeed my hair on top had become a much darker color, almost black (this is at 54 years old), over the preceding few months.
Am I sure Diabecon caused the color change in my hair? Well, since nothing occurs in a vacuum, and I had also been taking chlorella, spirulina, goji berries, sea vegetables, plus a wide variety of other healthy foods every day, the answer is, "No, I can't be sure." However, given the dozens of herbs in Diabecon combined with the professor's experience and my own, I think Diabecon probably contributed to my hair's health. Of course, if you're tempted to take Diabecon for your hair, remember that it doesn't "go straight" to your hair. See this "Off The Mark" cartoon for a humorous reminder: (http://www.offthemark.com/search-results/key...) . My take on this is that if Diabecon is helping cause such noticeable, positive changes in hair, it is probably working in other ways to promote health inside the body where we can't see it.
In my Google Scholar search, I came across alarming reports of high levels of mercury and lead in Diabecon and other Ayurvedic formulas. When I did a standard Google search, I found hundreds of such reports. It took quite a lot of looking around and comparing stories, but it turns out that one report out of Singapore was picked up by numerous news agencies and web sites, and was thus multiplied hundreds of times.
The original report (2) was on high levels of lead (lead only, not mercury) found in a bottle of Diabecon for sale locally in Singapore by Singapore authorities. After that, British authorities tested Diabecon sold locally in Britain, and no metals were found. The FDA has warned of heavy metals in Ayurvedic products sold in the U.S., has banned the sale of some, and has banned Diabecon as an "unapproved new drug" (3), notwithstanding the fact that most of the herbs in Diabecon have been used safely for centuries. There are even reports claiming that some Ayurvedic formulas intentionally contain heavy metals as a way of helping detoxification, not dissimilar to the concept of homeopathy.
To try to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding heavy metals in Diabecon, I contacted the maker of the product, the Himalaya Drug Company, in India by e-mail. Their response was detailed:
1. The Diabecon tested by Health Science Authority (HSA) Singapore was not from an authorized Himalaya Drug Company retailer.
2. The Himalaya Drug Company has not even sought approval for the sale of Diabecon in Singapore.
3. The Himalaya Drug Company still considers the case open, and HSA Singapore says the retailer who sold the Diabecon will be charged.
4. Other Himalaya Drug Company products sold in Singapore conform to all HSA Singapore regulations; all Himalaya Drug Company products sold locally in any country conform to that country's standards.
5. All Himalaya Drug Company products conform to standards set by the USP, WHO, and FAO for permissible heavy metal content in medicinal formulations (10 ppm).
6. All Himalaya Drug Company products are tested for efficacy and safety, and are free from side effects.
7. You should only purchase Himalaya Drug Company products from authorized outlets.
Their e-mail was cordial, detailed, and mostly reassuring, but since I was personally taking Diabecon, I decided the best course of action would be to have by own blood tested for mercury and lead. It cost me $140 and a little anxiety waiting a couple weeks for the results to come back. The laboratory's "normal value" for mercury is 9.0 micrograms per deciliter or lower; my result was 0.5 . According to my doctor, laboratories in Japan do not set "normal values" for lead, but one Japanese toxicology web page lists the average "bell curve", standard deviation values (4), with anything less than 20 micrograms per deciliter as being very low; my result was 4.2 micrograms per deciliter. Very low values, indeed. I stopped worrying. The Diabecon I'm taking is safe.
The bottom line is that you don't need drugs to cure adult-onset diabetes, which is already recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Health as a "lifestyle / habits disease" (Seikatsu Shuukan Byou in Japanese). All you need to do is exercise a little and improve your diet. In his book "How to Halt Diabetes in 25 Days", Mike Adams gives a day-by-day, workable plan for actually reversing high blood sugar and insulin resistance. (I bought it as a gift for a friend, but of course had to read it before wrapping.) Addition of a natural herbal complex like Diabecon -- proven to help peripheral glucose uptake without side effects -- may be an appropriate part of a healthy diet.
People in many countries (but not the USA) can import Diabecon directly from India without problems via online companies specializing in Indian and Ayurvedic products. One such company is IndiaAbundance.com (I also buy herbal eye drops from them). They have good prices, fast service, and inexpensive air mail shipping. (Disclaimer: I have no financial relationship with Diabecon's maker or any company selling Diabecon, and make no money whatsoever if you buy Diabecon from the company I mentioned here or any other company.)
Links To References:
1. Google Scholar search on Diabecon:
2. Health Sciences Authority Singapore, original report:
3. FDA's "unapproved new drug" claim:
4. Standard deviation:
About the authorJohn H. Cole has been editing medical manuscripts for publication in mainstream U.S. and European medical journals for the past 15 years in Japan. He also has a small English school in Gifu City, Japan. He believes that natural foods, superfoods, herbs, exercise, sunshine, good sleep, and avoidance of pollution are the answers to most people's health problems. He is a friend of nature.
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