Ayurvedic Medicines & Type 2 Diabetes
by Karyn Maier
In the first comprehensive systematic review of any traditional medicine, scientists from the University of Nottingham have determined that several Ayurvedic traditional therapies effectively maintain blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The study, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, also detailed the observation of additional benefits, including improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body weight.
To conduct the review, the research team members, all experts in diabetes research and Ayurvedic medicine, and all based in leading institutes throughout India, Nepal and the UK, accessed 18 electronic databases. From that search, which produced 32,519 records, 219 articles that represented 199 randomized controlled trials involving 21,191 study subjects and 98 Ayurvedic medicines were included in the review.
Among the botanical therapies found to be effective in regulating blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes, some of the most notable were:
Aegle marmelos (aka Indian bael and Japanese bitter orange)
Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense)
Gynostemma pentaphyllum (jiaogulan)
Nigella sativa (black cumin)
Plantago ovata (aka psyllium and woolly plantain)
Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek)
Urtica dioica (stinging nettle)
The scientists note that the Cochrane systematic review of a decade ago targeted herbal combination formulations and Ayurveda as a whole system and excluded individual herbs and their extracts. In contrast, this review included classical and proprietary Ayurvedic medicines of plant or mineral origin, whether applied alone or in combination, which more accurately reflects how these medicines are prescribed and consumed. It is anticipated that this review will provide Ayurvedic practitioners with clinical guidance going forward and that high-quality randomized controlled trials will soon follow.
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Chattopadhyay K, Wang H, Kaur J, et al. "Effectiveness and Safety of Ayurvedic Medicines in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Management: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis." Frontiers in Pharmacology, June 8, 2022.