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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    Effectiveness of CAM in diabetes

    Diabetes tool boxResearchers at the University of Ottawa, in Ontario reviewed the evidence for improved control of diabetes in type 2 diabetes mellitus.

    First, the details.

    • Studies of cinnamon, fenugreek, Gymnema sylvestre (an Ayurvedic herb), green tea, fiber, momordica (bitter melon), chromium, and vanadium were reviewed.
    • Studies focused on the ability of these treatments to improve A1c (the best long-term evidence of diabetes control) and fasting blood sugar levels (a common way to test for diabetes and for short term blood sugar control).

    And, the results.

    • Chromium
      • Reduced A1c levels and fasting blood sugar levels in a large meta-analysis
    • Gymnema sylvestre
      • Reduced A1c levels in 2 small studies
    • Cinnamon
      • Improved fasting blood sugar levels
      • Its effects on A1c are unknown
    • Bitter melon
      • No effect in 2 small studies
    • Fiber
      • No consistent effect on A1c or fasting blood sugar levels in 12 small studies.
    • Green tea and fenugreek
      • Each reduced fasting blood sugar levels in 1 of 3 small studies
    • Vanadium
      • Reduced fasting blood sugar levels in small studies
    • There are no studies evaluating the effects of these complementary treatments on the complications of diabetes.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded the following.

    • Chromium and possibly Gymnema sylvestre appear to improve diabetes control.
    • Fiber, green tea, and fenugreek have other benefits but there is little evidence that they substantially improve diabetes control.
    • Further research on bitter melon and cinnamon is warranted.

    One adjustment to this review, which was published in June 2009. This past September researchers reported, “Supplementation with 1 gram of cinnamon daily lowers A1c by 0.83% in patients with poorly controlled diabetes.”

    11/22/09 21:05 JR

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