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Traditional Indian Medicine, Salacia oblonga Herb May Help Treat Diabetes Posted By: News-Medical in Medical Study News Posted: Tuesday, February 8, 2005 Printer Friendly Email to a Friend 

It appears that the herbs used in Traditional Indian medicine to treat diabetes to lower insulin and blood sugar levels in a similar way to prescription drugs, a new study reports. The researchers gave extracts of the herb Salacia oblonga to 39 healthy adults, and the results were promising. The largest dose of the herb extract, 1,000 milligrams, lowered blood glucose and insulin levels by 29 and 23 percent, respectively. 

"These kinds of reductions are similar to what we might see with oral medications prescribed for people with diabetes," said Steve Hertzler, study co-author and assistant professor of nutrition at Ohio State University. 

Salacia oblonga, which is native to the regions of India and Sri Lanka, binds to intestinal enzymes that break down carbohydrates in the body. These enzymes, called alpha-glucosidases, convert carbohydrates into glucose, the sugar that circulates in the body. If the enzyme binds to the herbal extract rather than a carbohydrate, then less glucose enters the bloodstream, resulting in lower levels of glucose and insulin in the blood.

It may be easier to get someone to take an herb with food or drink, rather than a pill." 

The study appears in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 

Thirty-nine healthy adults participated in four independent food tolerance tests. These meals, which were given in the form of a drink, were spaced from three to 14 days. Each participant fasted for at least 10 hours before consuming the test drink. 

Participants were asked to drink approximately two cups of the cold beverage, which contained zero, 500, 700, or 1,000 milligrams of Salacia oblonga extract. The researchers then used the fingerstick method to draw blood samples from each person every 15 to 30 minutes for three hours. These blood samples were used to determine blood glucose and insulin concentrations. The biggest changes in blood glucose and insulin levels generally occur within the first two hours after eating.

The drink that contained the highest concentration of the herbal extract - 1,000 milligrams - provided the most dramatic reduction in blood glucose and insulin levels. 

Because Salacia oblonga can cause intestinal gas, the researchers had study participants collect hydrogen breath samples every hour for eight hours after drinking the test drink. The researchers then analyzed these breath samples for hydrogen and methane content; the level of any of the substances in the breath corresponds to the level contained in the colon. 

Subjects also rated the frequency and intensity of nausea, abdominal cramps, and bloating and gas for two days after consuming each test meal. While the test drinks containing Salacia oblonga caused increased excretion of hydrogen in the breath, reports of gastrointestinal upset were minimal, Hertzler said. 

Right now, he and his colleagues are trying to figure out which dosage of the herb is most effective and when it should be taken in relation to a meal. 

"We want to know how long it takes for the herb to bind to the enzymes that break down carbohydrates," Hertzler said. "The participants in this study took the herb with their food, but perhaps taking it before eating would be even more effective."

The researchers also want to study the effects of Salacia oblonga in people with diabetes. :: "Many studies show that lowering blood sugar levels reduces the risk of all kinds of diabetes-related complications, such as kidney disease and damage to the nerves and eyes," Hertzler said. "We want to see if this herb has this kind of effect." 

About the Author:

Dr. Sunil Kumar is the Public Relations Director & Writer for Holistic Junctions -- Your source of information for Holistic Practitioners; Complementary Medicine Practitioners, Complementary Medicine Schools, and Massage Therapy Schools; Insightful Literature and so much more!


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