Chinese Herbals Delay Progression to Type 2 Diabetes — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 17, 2014

Chinese Herbals Delay Progression to Type 2 Diabetes

By Amy Orciari Herman

A combination of Chinese herbal medicines can delay progression to diabetes in high-risk patients, according to a small study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Some 400 patients in China with impaired glucose tolerance were randomized to receive Tianqi -- a capsule containing 10 Chinese herbal medicines -- or placebo for 12 months (5 capsules 3 times daily). All participants also received lifestyle education.

At the end of the study, significantly fewer Tianqi patients than placebo recipients had progressed to diabetes (18% vs. 29%). In addition, significantly more Tianqi recipients had achieved normal glucose tolerance (63% vs. 47%). Adverse events did not differ between groups.

The researchers say Tianqi offers similar benefits to metformin and may be better tolerated. Calling for larger clinical trials, they conclude: "Tianqi holds promising potential as an effective and practical means to prevent [type 2 diabetes]."

Reader Comments (13)

Phuong Nguyen, MD STL, MO, USA

We don't know what exactly in the recippes . We don't know what each ingredient work in the body . Should we trust the statistics from chinese research yet? I'm afraid there too many unknown factors for this pill .

JOHANNA WOLGAST Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, County clinic

I'm surprised JCEM would even publish an article that did not clearly state (and verify) the active ingredients of the studied drug. It does not speak well for their editors.

Jordan Physician, Internal Medicine

You cannot prevent type II diabetes if you continue to eat 'added' sugar -

Steven Bedenoord. MBCHB Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, Canada

All cultures have traditional medicine. A few work, most is placebo and some are very dangerous. It is the job of evidence based medicine to find the few useful active ingredients. Remember that in some Asian counties Rhino horn is suppose to be a very good Aphrodisiac. A "well" designed study might even show that is works.
I wonder what the last rhinos think of that.

PETER APOR Physician, Internal Medicine, Semmelweis Uni, Sports Faculty, Budapest

I have a farm for medical plants and spicies, but I never use them for curing patients, just for the flavor.

JOEL NOVAK, MS Other Healthcare Professional, retired biostatistician in clinical trials


trungpham Physician, Pulmonary Medicine, retired

D,ont believe the chinise' study ,a lot of patient s enrolle in that study but they continue to take metmormine who can know it This is the reality in China. !!

dale South, Jr Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, retired 2013

Far Eastern herbals for arthritis in 70s and80s found to contain steroids. Detailed analysis needed before use of these medications to assure patient safety in my opinion. I would not use without this assurance.

Maryse Pedoussaut MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, FIU

Great1 I would like to know more about all those plants.could yoy give their names please
Thank you so much!


Rogelio Pujol argentina

Quisiera conocer más sobre este tipo de tratamiento. Soy diabetico Tipo 1
Rogelio Pujol

Sanford Kimmel,MD. Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences

Although the use of a 'natural' product such as Tianqi will no doubt be appealing to many people, past experience with herbal supplements has taught us to be wary of supplements that are impure or even adulterated with prescription-type pharmaceuticals. Since Tianqi is a combination of 10 Chinese herbs, this also increases the risk of impurities. Did the authors test the compound for impurties such as heavy metals? Did they test for adulterants?

Dorrrel Bailey, BS,MA,CNA Other Healthcare Professional, Hematology, NYU Cancer Institute

Say what? I can't believe this,

Henry Wilde, MD Physician, Infectious Disease, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

As an editor of an Asian Biomedical journal, which strives to achieve international scientific standards, we receive numerous manuscripts presenting favorable data from locally grown herbals for diabetes, ASHD, renal failure and other maladies. Most of these studies are uncontrolled and active ingredients of the herbals are not identified. We made a ruling not to accept such papers unless the pharmacology has been illuminated and the possibly active ingredients have been identified. Here you may have a study that might be a step further ahead but you still have 10, probably not known, herbals with even more unknown potentially active ingredients. This seems to me to call for steps, cumbersome as that would be, to identify ingredients next before publishing it to the delight of the company that markets it. We all know too well that it takes a very long time to discover hidden adverse side effects. These issues need some discussions as such papers seem to appear increasingly..

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