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Sunday 27th May 2018

Chinese medicine helps diabetes

14th August 2006

14082006_barberry1.jpgResearch shows that Berberine, a traditional Chinese medicine may help people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Found in the roots and barks of some plants, Berberine has been documented in Chinese literature as being able to lower glucose levels in diabetics. Scientists have now found that studies on rodents support this.

Berberine is found in several plants, including barberry, goldenseal, and the Oregon grape; it has been used by a number of different cultures for medicinal purposes, for example to treat diarrhoea. It is also being used to treat diabetes, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine.

Writing in the journal Diabetes an international team reported on the effect of berberine on mice and rats. They found that a dose of the compound, given orally, caused blood sugar levels to go down, led to fewer fats circulating in the bloodstream, made insulin work better and lowered the animals' body weights.

The team believes the plant product is "turning on" an enzyme found in body tissue.  This improves the body's sensitivity to insulin, in turn lowering blood sugar levels and reducing the level of circulating fats.

Professor David James, head of the diabetes and obesity research programme at the Garvan Institute, Sydney, Australia, cautioned that more clinical studies were needed on humans before berberine should be recommended for diabetics, particularly to investigate how the compound interacts with other drugs.

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