Traditional Chinese herbal medicines can slow the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes according to a study from China. “…” The herbal formula known as ‘Tianqi capsule’, which contains 10 Chinese herbs (Huang Qi [Astragali Radix], Huang Lian [Coptidis Rhizoma], Tian Hua Fen [Trichosanthis Radix], Nu Zhen Zi [Ligustri Lucidi Fructus], Tie Pi Shi Hu [Dendrobii Caulis], Ren Shen [Ginseng Radix], Di Gu Pi [Lycii Cortex], Mo Han Lian [Ecliptae Herba], Wu Bei Zi [Galla Chinensis] and Shan Zhu Yu [Corni Fructus]) is widely used in China for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). A multi-centre RCT enrolled 420 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) who were randomly allocated to take Tianqi or a placebo capsule three times a day for 12 months.
All participants received a month of lifestyle education at the outset of the trial and met with nutritionists several times during the course of the study. Subjects’ glucose tolerance was measured on a quarterly basis. At the end of the 12-month trial, 36 subjects in the Tianqi group (18.18%) and 56 in the placebo group (29.32%) had developed diabetes. Analysis of the results showed that taking Tianqi reduced the risk of diabetes by 32.1% compared with placebo. This reduction in risk is comparable to that found with diabetes medications acarbose and metformin, and study participants reported few side effects from taking Tianqi. The research also showed that there was a significant difference between the Tianqi and placebo groups in the number of subjects who showed normal glucose tolerance at the end of the study (63.13% and 46.60% respectively). According to the study’s authors, the key herb in the formula is Huang Lian (Coptidis Rhizoma), the constituent of which – berberine – has previously been reported to have good anti-diabetic effects.
(Chinese herbal medicine Tianqi reduces progression from impaired glucose tolerance to diabetes: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Feb;99(2):648-55).