This Morning: Type 2 diabetes can be 'devastating' says expert
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Diabetes complications arise from poor insulin production, which raises the spectre of dangerously high blood sugar levels. Fortunately, you can counter the threat posed by high blood sugar levels via another means: diet. A comprehensive review, published in the journal Complementary Therapies Medicine makes a strong case for supplementing with chamomile.
The chamomile plant (a herb belonging to the Asteraceae family) has long been used in traditional medicine practices.
Researchers conducted a systematic review of the evidence pertaining to chamomile’s effects on metabolic markers and complications of diabetes from animal and human studies.
A broad literature search of common electronic databases, including PubMed, Scopus, Embase, ProQuest, and Google Scholar, turned up nine relevant animal studies and six human clinical trials.
What did the researchers find out?
All animal studies showed improvement in various measures of glycaemic (blood sugar) control and glucose intolerance, sustained over time.
Improvements in blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes ranged from 14 percent to 59 percent and was dose-dependent in studies that included different dosing regimens.
In another trial included in the review, 64 patients with type 2 diabetes received three cups daily of chamomile tea (3 g/150 mL of hot water) or placebo for eight weeks.
The chamomile tea group demonstrated significant decreases in HbA1c (average blood sugar levels over the previous eight to 12 weeks), insulin levels, and insulin resistance, as well as an 11 percent reduction in blood sugar levels compared to the placebo group.
More studies are needed to confirm these findings before recommendations can be made, however.
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Nonetheless, UK health bodies have covered encouraging stories over the years.
In 2008, Diabetes UK reported on a study which claimed drinking chamomile tea daily may help prevent the complications of type 2 diabetes, such as blindness, heart disease and kidney damage.
In the study, UK and Japanese researchers gave a chamomile extract to rats with diabetes.
The extract appeared to cut blood glucose levels and block activity of an enzyme associated with the development of diabetic complications.
Back then, a degree of caution was exercised too. “More research would be needed before we can come to any firm conclusions about the role chamomile tea plays in fighting diabetes-related complications,” said Doctor Victoria King, Research Manager at Diabetes UK, at the time of publication.
“Diabetes UK wouldn’t recommend people with diabetes increase their chamomile tea intake just yet. Eating a healthy balanced diet, taking regular physical activity and adhering to any prescribed medicines remain key ways to effectively control blood glucose levels, blood pressure and blood fats.
“Good diabetes management will help reduce the risk of serious complications such as stroke and blindness.”
Type 2 diabetes – symptoms to spot
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision.
“A GP can diagnose diabetes. You’ll need a blood test, which you may have to go to your local health centre for if it cannot be done at your GP surgery,” explains the NHS.
The health body adds: “The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better.”
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