For people with elevated blood sugar levels, taking Chinese herbal medicines may reduce the risk of developing diabetes, early research from China suggests.
Nearly 400 people in China with prediabetes were randomly assigned in the study to take either an herbal medicine called Tianqi (a mixture of 10 Chinese herbal medicines; sometimes spelled Tian qi)) or a placebo three times daily for one year. People with prediabetes have elevated blood sugar levels that are not yet high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
At the end of the year, 36 participants in the Tianqi group and 56 in the placebo group developed Type 2 diabetes. After taking into account the participants' age and gender, those who took Tianqi were 32 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who took the placebo, according to the researchers.
Few side effects were seen (15 in the Tianqi group and 11 in the placebo group), and all were mild reactions, the researchers said. [Myth or Truth? 7 Ancient Health Wisdoms Explained]
People with prediabetes are at greater risk for developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, but they 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," study researcher Dr. Chun-Su Yuan, of the University of Chicago, said in a statement. "Traditional Chinese herbs may offer a new option for managing blood sugar levels, either alone or in combination with other treatments."
However, it's too soon to recommend this herbal medicine as a therapy to prevent diabetes, because larger studies with longer follow-up time are needed to verify the results, the researchers said.
Other experts were critical of the study.
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