COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say a traditional Indian medicine for treating diabetes lowers blood sugar and insulin levels in a way similar to prescription drugs.
Researchers at Ohio State University gave extracts of the herb Salacia oblonga to 39 healthy adults who had fasted for 10 hours. The study participants were given different levels of the herb, which was served as a chilled beverage.
The largest dose decreased insulin levels by 29 percent and glucose levels by 23 percent, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Intestinal enzymes normally bond to carbohydrates and turn them to glucose, the sugar that circulates throughout the body. If the enzymes bond to Salacia oblonga instead, they produce less glucose, lowering blood glucose and insulin levels.
"Lowering blood glucose levels lowers the risk of disease-related complications in people with diabetes," wrote Steve Hertzler, co-author of the study. "Also, poor compliance with diabetes medications often hinders the effectiveness of these drugs. It may be easier to get someone to take an herb with food or in a beverage, as opposed to a pill."
Salacia oblonga is native to regions in India and Sri Lanka but is difficult to find in America.