A herbal formula has been shown to heal diabetic foot ulcers and help to prevent amputations. Researchers from Hong Kong conducted a randomised, placebo-controlled trial involving 80 patients with diabetic ulcers. All patients received standard treatment (adequate diabetic control, antibiotics and daily wound dressing) plus either herbal medicine or a placebo drink, twice daily for four weeks. The herbal medicine used granules made from a boiled decoction of twelve herbs, including Huang Qi (Astragali Radix) Sheng Di Huang (Rehmanniae Radix) and Bai Zhu (Atractylodis macrocephalae Rhizoma). After four weeks of treatment, 18 patients had not shown satisfactory improvement (ulcer remained necrotic). Twelve of these 18 patients came from the placebo group and six were from the herbal group. All 18 were then given the herbal supplement. Among these 18, six cases continued to deteriorate and ended up with amputations. All of those who required amputation belonged to the placebo group, while the 12 ‘rescued’ from amputation were shared equally between the initial herbal and placebo groups. Levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha declined in both groups during the course of treatment, although the decline was much more significant in the herbal group. (Inflammatory state of Type II diabetic patients with chronic ulcers in response to herbal treatment. Foot (Edinb). 2012 Mar 29.