Indian herb again shows promise for diabetics

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Insulin, Diabetes mellitus

The traditional Indian herbal Salacia oblonga, for
diabetics to lower blood sugar and insulin responses after eating,
says a new study from the US that helps build the science behind
the herb.

"The extract of Salacia oblonga lowers acute glycemia and insulinemia in persons with type 2 diabetes after a high-carbohydrate meal,"​ wrote the researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."The results from this study suggest that Salacia may be beneficial to this population for postprandial glucose control,"​ they added. An estimated 19 million people are affected by diabetes in the EU 25, equal to four per cent of the total population. This figure is projected to increase to 26 million by 2030. In the US, there are over 20 million people with diabetes, equal to seven per cent of the population. The total costs are thought to be as much as $132 billion, with $92 billion being direct costs from medication, according to 2002 American Diabetes Association figures. Researchers from Abbott Laboratories and Radiant Research evaluated the effect of two doses (240 or 480 mg) of Salacia oblonga​ on blood glucose and insulin levels of 66 type-2 diabetics after eating a high-carbohydrate meal. Results were compared to an unsupplemented standard liquid control meal. The randomised, double-blinded crossover study showed that both doses of the herbal significantly lowered the postprandial glucose response by 14 and 22 per cent for the 240 mg and 480 mg extract, respectively, compared to the control meal. Moreover, both doses significantly reduced the postprandial insulin response by 14and 19 per cent for the 240 and 480 mg extract, respectively. It is thought that Salacia oblonga​ acts in a similar way to diabetes medications by binding to intestinal enzymes called alpha-glucosidases, which are responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into glucose. When the enzyme binds to the herbal extract rather than a carbohydrate, less glucose gets into the blood stream, resulting in lowered blood glucose and insulin levels. The study supports similar results published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association​ (2005, vol 105, pp. 65-71) by researchers from Ohio State University. In this instance, a 1,000mg dose of the herb Salacia oblonga​ was reported to decrease insulin levels in healthy adults by 29 per cent and blood glucose levels by 23 per cent. Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ July 2007, Volume 86, Number 1, Pages 124-130 "Extract of Salacia oblonga lowers acute glycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes" ​Authors: J.A. Williams, Y.S. Choe, M.J. Noss, C.J. Baumgartner and V.A. Mustad

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