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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    Herbs and dietary supplements for diabetes control

    Dr. Désirée Lie’s post on Medscape reviews nopal (prickly pear cactus), fenugreek, cinnamon, and Gymnema.

    Here are the highpoints.

    Prickly pear cactus (nopal)

    • Nopal is native to the southwestern US and South America.
    • It’s traditionally used among Mexicans as a food and medicinally as an anti-inflammatory, a laxative, a blood sugar lowering treatment for diabetes, and to treat gastritis.
    • How it works to lower blood sugar isn’t known, although it has an insulin-sensitizing effect in animals.
    • 1 study showed a positive effect of nopal on blood sugar when included in a typical Mexican breakfast.
    • Other studies of capsules or juice failed to show any effect on blood sugar.
    • Nopal may interact with oral anti-diabetes drugs and increase the risk for hypoglycemia.

    Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre, or gurmar)

    • A woody climbing plant found in central and southern India, tropical Africa, and Australia.
    • Used in Ayurvedic medicine.
    • The leaves are used as a digestive; diuretic; and blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight-lowering agent.
    • Only 2 studies, both of poor quality, showed significant reductions in blood sugar and A1c.
    • Gymnema may interact with oral anti-diabetes drugs and increase the risk for hypoglycemia.

    Cinnamon (Cassia cinnamon, or Cinnamomum aromaticum)

    • Animal and laboratory studies indicate that cinnamon may mimic the effects of insulin, act as an insulin sensitizer, and improve cellular glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis.
    • Studies in patients are small and have produced contradictory results.
    • In the most recent study, researchers reported positive results and recommended cinnamon as an adjunct to diabetes care for patients with an A1c level greater than 7%.

    Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

    • An annual herb native to western Asia and southeastern Europe.
    • 2 studies in diabetes patients reported a positive effect on blood sugar control.
    • More on fenugreek is here.

    The bottom line?

    Go to the article for more details.

    7/6/10 20:14 JR

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