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  Category: Articles » Health & Fitness » Diabetes » Article

An Ancient Herbal Therapy For Diabetics

By Ng Peng Hock

Type 2 diabetes is an increasing health problem worldwide. Most of the 194 million people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by inability to regular the sugar in the body properly. Diabetics are of high risk of developing other diseases including heart disease, if their conditions are not well-managed.

A recent study revealed that an herbal therapy that has been used for thousands of years may help control blood sugar levels in people suffering from Type-2 diabetes. Milk thistle, a flowering herb, contains several chemicals with possible medical effects. Most current research focuses on one of them, silymarin, which may have specific protective effects on cells in the liver. Milk thistle can also produce modest reductions in cholesterol levels and help to protect the heart muscle from damage caused by certain drugs. However, these potential uses have not been well-studied in humans.

As reported in the Journal Phytotherapy Research, a study conducted by researchers from the Institute of Medicinal Plants in Teheran seemed to indicate beneficial effects of silymarin for Type 2 diabetics.

The researchers compared the effects of daily supplements of silymarin against a placebo in 52 diabetics. Half of the patients received 200 mg of silymarin 3 times a day for 4 months or the dummy pill along with conventional treatments. At the end of the study, people in the herbal group had reduced blood glucose levels compared to their earlier levels.

The results were indeed very encouraging but further large multi-center studies were necessary. Although some substances appear to have an effect in people with Type 2 diabetes, it is warned that they should not be used as a cure and should not replace traditional therapies. As the study was very small and still in its early stages, it is not recommended to use milk thistle or any other supplement for people with diabetes.

Women who have cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus or who have other hormone-dependent conditions should not take or use milk thistle plant extract due to its possible estrogenic effects. Pregnant women should also not take milk thistle because of it could interfere with normal fetal development. Men who have prostate cancer should not take milk thistle without the approval of a doctor.

Despite the findings, researchers still stressed that the best methods of controlling glucose levels is through a combination of regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and the relevant prescribed medication.

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