Herbal supplements may improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetes

Picture of a sweet potato, or Ipomoea batatas

This systematic review identified nine studies of the effects of various herbal supplement on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes.  The reviewers found significant benefits for Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato), Silybum marianum (milk thistle), and Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek).

The reviewers found nine randomised trials with a total of 487 patients that reported HbA1c after at least 8 weeks of follow-up.

Appraisal guide

Readers of this paper should consider:

  • The quality of individual studies, particularly the sample size and possible co-interventions
  • The length of follow-up, and whether any benefit might be sustained in the long term.
  • Heterogeneity between different studies.
  • Possible adverse effects, such as possible interactions with medication.


Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Boonkaew S, Suthisisang CC. Meta-analysis of the effect of herbal supplement on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print]

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I am an information scientist with an interest in making knowledge from systematic research more accessible to people who need it. This means you. I've been attempting this in the area of Evidence-Based Health Care since 1995. So far the results have been mixed. For some reason we expected busy clinicians to search databases and appraise papers instead of seeing patients. We also expected publishers to make the research freely available to the people who paid for it.. Ha! Hence The National Elf service.

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