Review of selected Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this article is to examine how Chinese herbal medicines are used in the treatment of diabetes, focusing on potential benefits and risks. METHODS: Medline, expert interviews, and Internet searches were used to identify Chinese herbal medicines with antidiabetic properties and their diabetes-related health claim, proposed antidiabetic effect, adverse effects, contraindications, and drug interactions. RESULTS: Twenty-three herbs and 5 herbal formulas were selected for review. Antidiabetic health claims included increasing serum insulin, decreasing blood glucose, increasing glucose metabolism, and/or stimulating pancreatic function. Side effects were few or not reported. CONCLUSIONS: The use of Chinese herbal medicines in diabetes is promising but still far from proven. Diabetes educators need to be aware of the risks and benefits of herbal medicines. Patients should be asked about the use and source of herbal medicines and carefully monitored for drug interactions and adverse effects.
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