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Indian Herb Again Shows Promise for Diabetics

Jul 31, 2007

The traditional Indian herbal Salacia oblonga, can be effective for diabetics to lower blood sugars by 23% and insulin responses by 29%, says a new study from the US that helps build the science behind the herb.

"The extract of Salacia oblonga lowers acute glycemia and insulinemia in persons with type 2 diabetes after a high-carbohydrate meal," wrote the researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It works similar to alpha-glucosidase inhibators.

"The results from this study suggest that Salacia may be beneficial to this population for postprandial glucose control," they added.

Researchers from Abbott Laboratories and Radiant Research evaluated the effect of two doses (240 or 480 mg) of Salacia oblonga on blood glucose and insulin levels of 66 type-2 diabetics after eating a high-carbohydrate meal. Results were compared to an unsupplemented standard liquid control meal.

The randomized, double-blinded crossover study showed that both doses of the herbal significantly lowered the postprandial glucose response by 14 and 22 per cent for the 240 mg and 480 mg extract, respectively, compared to the control meal.

Moreover, both doses significantly reduced the postprandial insulin response by 14and 19 per cent for the 240 and 480 mg extract, respectively.

It is thought that Salacia oblonga acts in a similar way to diabetes medications by binding to intestinal enzymes called alpha-glucosidases, which are responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into glucose. When the enzyme binds to the herbal extract rather than a carbohydrate, less glucose gets into the blood stream, resulting in lowered blood glucose and insulin levels.  Salacia Oblonga inhibits the breakdown of oligosaccharides (disaccharides and trisaccharides) such as sucrose, maltose, etc. into monosaccharides and inhibits the absorption of monosaccharides such as glucose, mannose, etc. in the body, preventing blood sugar levels from rising.

The study supports similar results published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (2005, vol 105, pp. 65-71) by researchers from Ohio State University. In this instance, a 1,000mg dose of the herb Salacia oblonga was reported to decrease insulin levels in healthy adults by 29 per cent and blood glucose levels by 23 per cent.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; July 2007, Volume 86, Number 1, Pages 124-130  "Extract of Salacia oblonga lowers acute glycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes" Authors: J.A. Williams, Y.S. Choe, M.J. Noss, C.J. Baumgartner and V.A. Mustad

 Reducing Salt in Processed Foods Can Save 150,000 Lives: Just a 1.3-g/day reduction in sodium, translates into a 5-mm-Hg smaller rise in systolic blood pressure. Between the ages of 25 and 55 years, this small reduction would translate into an estimated 150 000 lives saved. There was a 55% increase in sodium intake in the US from the early 1970s to 2000.  The paper also notes that populations with an average sodium ingestion of less than 1400 mg/day have virtually no hypertension and show no progressive increase in blood pressure with age. In the US, average sodium consumption has been estimated to be 4000 mg/day per 2000 kcal, substantially higher than the 2300 mg/day recommended by the American Heart Association.
See This Week’s Item #10   Arch Intern Med 2007; 167:1460-1468.

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