For people with blood sugar levels that is elevated, taking Chinese medicine may very well reduce the risk of developing diabetes, according to a research.

In a double-blind trial, 389 participants with prediabetes (or people with elevated blood sugar levels that are not high enough to have type 2 diabetes in the future) at 11 research sites in China were randomly assigned to take a herbal medicine called Tianqi, or a placebo. Tianqi is a mixture of around 110 Chinese medicines and is also spelled Tian qi in some parts of China.

After the end of the first year, 56 participants in the placebo group and 36 in the Tianqi group developed type 2 diabetes. However those who took Tianqi were 32.1  percent less likely to develop diabetes compared to those who took the placebo. The research shows that Tianqi's ability to reduce the risk of developing diabetes is similar to that of diabetes drugs, metformin and acarbose.

"Patients often struggle to make the necessary lifestyle changes to control blood sugar levels, and current medications have limitations and can have adverse gastrointestinal side effects," study researcher Dr. Chun-Su Yuan, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of Chicago, said in a statement. "Traditional Chinese herbs may offer a new option for managing blood sugar levels, either alone or in combination with other treatments."

The Tianqi herb is a mixture of Astragali Radix, Coptidis Rhizoma, Trichosanthis Radix, Dendrobii Caulis, Ligustri Lucidi Fructus, Ginseng Radix, Lycii Cortex, Ecliptae Herba, Corni Fructus, and Galla Chinensis.

The researchers also noted that patients tolerated the Tianqi quite well in their tests. Furthermore, the dose they were prescribed to take was significantly lower than the amount known to be toxic.

"Although the results of the present study need to be confirmed in future larger clinical trials, Tianqi holds promising potential as an effective and practical means to prevent T2DM, particularly in places in which herbal medicines are culturally accepted and widely used," the researchers wrote.

This research could help doctors fight diabetes more effectively in the future. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 79 million Americans, 20 years or older, have prediabetes.

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