Scientific research backs traditional Chinese treatment of diabetes

A collaborative study shows than an herb traditionally used in Chinese medicine may help to control diabetes type II. The product’s name is berberine, and it’s found in the roots and bark of a number of plants used for many purposes, like wound healing. The Chinese have also documented its ability to lower blood sugar.

“Our studies in animal models of diabetes show that berberine acts in part by activating an enzyme in the muscle and liver that is involved in improving sensitivity of the tissue to insulin – this in turn helps lower blood sugar levels. In addition, it seems berberine can help reduce body weight” reports Dr. Jiming Ye, a Garvan scientist.

Currently, the primary medications used to treat diabetes type II are metformin and the TZD group of medications. However, metformin isn’t tolerated well by all patients, and the TZD medications tend to cause unwanted weight gain. As the prevalence of type II diabetes increases, the need for a new treatment rises along with it. While berberine hasn’t been fully evaluated as of yet, it holds promise for the future in the development of a new treatment.

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