The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

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

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Effectiveness of CAM in diabetes

    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

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