Control Blood Sugar with Herbal Supplement
People with type 2 diabetes may gain better blood sugar control by taking Pancreas Tonic, a mixture of traditional Indian Ayurvedic herbs, reports a study in Metabolism (2004;53:1166–73).
Diabetes is a blood sugar regulation disorder that leads to elevated blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or their bodies do not respond appropriately to the insulin they do produce, or both. Treatment usually includes a combination of diet and medications. Diabetics may suffer permanent damage to the eyes, kidneys, nervous system, and heart if the disease is not adequately controlled.
Ayurveda is a system of medicine that has been practiced in India for over 3,000 years. Using exercise, diet, meditation, and herbs, Ayurvedic treatment has been found to improve some chronic diseases and may help with many more.
The new study examined the effect of an Ayurvedic herbal supplement called Pancreas Tonic on measures of blood sugar control in 36 people with type 2 diabetes. The participants received either two capsules of Pancreas Tonic three times per day, or placebo for three months. Pancreas Tonic is a mixture of ten herbs including bitter melon, fenugreek, and gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre). All of the components of the supplement have been shown individually in preliminary studies to help control diabetes.
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a blood test that evaluates long-term blood sugar control, was used to assess the response to the study supplement. People with higher initial levels of HbA1c had a significant decrease in their levels after treatment with Pancreas Tonic. Those people with lower initial levels did not show an improvement in HbA1c. None of the participants in the placebo group had an improvement in HbA1c levels. These results are consistent with those achieved by other forms of diabetes treatment; people with higher initial HbA1c levels tend to experience the greatest reduction.
This is the first study to clearly demonstrate the benefit of an Ayurvedic herbal supplement for the treatment of diabetes. A few minor side effects were reported by about one-quarter of the people taking Pancreas Tonic including sore throat, itchy eyes, headache, and back and leg pain; however, in general, the supplement was well tolerated. While the results of this study are promising, further research is warranted to investigate how Pancreas Tonic works, and to compare the supplement with current anti-diabetic medications.
Pancreas Tonic is available as an over-the-counter supplement, and is also sold under the brand name Antibetic.
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She is a co-founder and practicing physician at South County Naturopaths, Inc., in Wakefield, RI. Dr. Beauchamp teaches holistic medicine classes and provides consultations focusing on detoxification and whole-foods nutrition.
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