Diabetes tool boxResearchers at the University of Ottawa, in Ontario reviewed the evidence for improved control of diabetes in type 2 diabetes mellitus.

First, the details.

  • Studies of cinnamon, fenugreek, Gymnema sylvestre (an Ayurvedic herb), green tea, fiber, momordica (bitter melon), chromium, and vanadium were reviewed.
  • Studies focused on the ability of these treatments to improve A1c (the best long-term evidence of diabetes control) and fasting blood sugar levels (a common way to test for diabetes and for short term blood sugar control).

And, the results.

  • Chromium
    • Reduced A1c levels and fasting blood sugar levels in a large meta-analysis
  • Gymnema sylvestre
    • Reduced A1c levels in 2 small studies
  • Cinnamon
    • Improved fasting blood sugar levels
    • Its effects on A1c are unknown
  • Bitter melon
    • No effect in 2 small studies
  • Fiber
    • No consistent effect on A1c or fasting blood sugar levels in 12 small studies.
  • Green tea and fenugreek
    • Each reduced fasting blood sugar levels in 1 of 3 small studies
  • Vanadium
    • Reduced fasting blood sugar levels in small studies
  • There are no studies evaluating the effects of these complementary treatments on the complications of diabetes.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded the following.

  • Chromium and possibly Gymnema sylvestre appear to improve diabetes control.
  • Fiber, green tea, and fenugreek have other benefits but there is little evidence that they substantially improve diabetes control.
  • Further research on bitter melon and cinnamon is warranted.

One adjustment to this review, which was published in June 2009. This past September researchers reported, “Supplementation with 1 gram of cinnamon daily lowers A1c by 0.83% in patients with poorly controlled diabetes.”

11/22/09 21:05 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.