Conventional drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes are significantly more effective when paired with traditional Chinese medicine, new research finds.
The study involved a controlled clinical trial of 800 Type 2 diabetic adults, comparing the anti-diabetic drug Glibenclamide as a stand-alone treatment and treatment with Glibenclamide in conjunction with traditional Chinese medicine.
Results show patients treated with traditional Chinese medicine were more than a third less likely to experience hypoglycaemia—dangerously low levels of blood sugar—than those treated with Glibenclamide only.
“They were also less likely to experience other symptoms of diabetes, including fatigue, hunger, and palpitation,” says Sanjoy Paul of the University of Queensland.
“Traditional Chinese medicine has long been used to treat diabetes in China and around the world but until now there has been a lack of evidence regarding its safety and efficacy. This absence of scientific understanding has caused skepticism and criticism about traditional Chinese medicine.”
More studies are needed to interpret just how traditional Chinese medicine works to reduce hypoglycaemia, but the new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, highlight its potential to reduce the treatment gap in developing countries where diabetes is at epidemic proportions, Paul says.
“A vast majority of people in developing countries depend on herbal medicine for basic health care. The findings of this study may improve the safe delivery of effective health care to people who may otherwise be unable to access treatment.”
The study is the largest scientifically designed clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine on glycaemic control in patients with Type 2 diabetes.
Lilong Ji, professor at Peking University, contributed to the study.
Click here for the complete issue.