Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Can Herbal Medicine Treat Diabetes and Prevent Heart Disease?

Herbal medicines have already been utilized by people for the treatment of many diseases and ailments for many centuries. Sad to say, their role has gradually been dismissed by the Western health experts because they claim that no hard scientific evidence is found to support how these herbs treat the diseases.

However, the prevailing scientific medicines seem could not deliver their promises in treating many diseases and worse still, many of these medications come with side effects, some of which are deadly serious. Therefore, more and more patients have turned to herbal medicines for help.

Recently, there is an increase in the number of diabetics seek treatment from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), though some doctors felt that there is no proven evidence in such alternative treatment.

Diabetes is a very common but serious disease that is characterized by excessively high blood sugar level. Being a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke, diabetes could also lead to high blood pressure, blindness, peripheral amputation and even heart attack.

History showed that medicinal plants have been used in traditional healing around the world for a long time to treat diabetes. This is because such herbal plants have hypoglycemic properties, as reported in scientific literature.

At least 400 traditional plants could treat diabetes, and some of these have been scientifically evaluated and observed to have experimental and/or clinical anti-diabetic activity. For example, Gymnema sylvestre (gurmar), Momordica charantia (bitter melon) and Trigonella foenum greacum (fenugreek) have been found to be beneficial to diabetics. Moreover, there have been very few adverse effects were reported in the clinical studies of these herbal medicines. In other words, they appear to be generally safe.

It is worth mentioning that many Western drugs used today also originated from natural plant sources. For instance, metformin, an oral prescription glucose-lowering drug for diabetes, was initially derived from a flowering plan called Galega officinalis (Goat’s Rue or French Lilac). The latter was commonly used as traditional remedy for diabetes.

In fact, The World Health Organization (WTO) Expert Committee on diabetes has recommended that traditional medicinal herbs be further investigated. This indicates that the role of TCM in the management of diabetes should not be underestimated.


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