Cochrane Summaries

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Chinese herbal medicines for type 2 diabetes mellitus

Liu JP, Zhang M, Wang W, Grimsgaard S
Published Online: 
21 January 2009

We are still waiting for firm evidence on Chinese herbal medicines for treatment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Although the use of herbal medicines for treatment of diabetes has a long history especially in the East, current evidence cannot warrant to support the routine use in clinical practice. This systematic review evaluates the effects of various herbal preparations (including single herbs or mixtures of different herbs) for treating people with type 2 diabetes. The review shows that some herbal medicines lower blood sugar and relieving symptoms in patients with diabetes. However, the methodological quality of the clinical trials evaluating these herbs is generally poor. The analyses also indicate that trials with positive findings are more likely to be associated with exaggerated effects. However, the trials did not report significant adverse effects. In conclusion, herbal medicines should not be recommended for routine use in diabetic patients of type 2 diabetes until we get scientifically sound trials. Testing the herbs in larger, well-designed trials is needed in order to establish the necessary evidence for their use.