The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    CAM for type 2 diabetes

    Researchers from the University of Ottawa, in Ontario focused their review on type 2 (AKA adult onset) diabetes.

    Here’s a summary of the evidence for CAM therapies.

    Cinnamon

    • 2 of 3 studies report a decrease in fasting blood sugar.
    • Overall, there’s moderate evidence that cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels.
    • Its effect on A1c  (a measure of long term diabetes control) appears negligible, but long-term studies are needed to properly evaluate this effect.

    Chromium

    • A1c and fasting blood sugar were significantly reduced in a meta-analysis of all data.
    • There’s strong evidence that 200 to 1000 mcg of chromium picolinate daily improves diabetes control.
    • Based on its safety and potential cost-effectiveness, a definitive study is needed.
    • Biotin might enhance its effects, but this combination requires further study.

    Vanadium

    • Fasting blood sugar was reduced in some less well-designed studies.
    • There is insufficient evidence to support its use in diabetes.

    Fiber

    • A non-significant reduction in A1c was reported in 1 of 3 studies.
    • Fasting blood sugar was lowered in 6 of 12 studies.
    • Evidence of short-term benefit is conflicting.
    • Fiber can be recommended based on its benefit for other cardiovascular risk factors, however.

    Green tea

    • Fasting blood sugar was lowered in 1 of 3 studies.
    • There’s little evidence that green tea improves diabetes control.
    • Based on epidemiological evidence, further research is warranted.
    • Green tea can be recommended based on its potential for other health benefits.

    Bitter melon

    • No benefit on A1c or fasting blood sugar in 2 small studies.
    • Current evidence doesn’t support its use.
    • Further studies in cultures where it has been used traditionally might be useful.

    Fenugreek

    • Fasting blood sugar was lowered in 1 of 3 studies.
    • Limited supporting evidence for diabetes, and high doses might be impractical for most patients.
    • Lipid-lowering benefits should be studied.

    Gymnema

    • A1c levels were reduced in 2 small studies.
    • This A1c response warrants further study.

    The bottom line?
    Today, A1c is the best test of a treatment’s value for controlling diabetes. Future studies must account for the fact that it takes 3 months to see a change in A1c in response to any treatment.

    Another recent reivew of herbals to treat diabetes is here.

    6/14/09 16:55 JR

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