Lack of good evidence for Ayurvedic medicine in treating diabetes.

Abstract illustration of Ayurvedic medicine

Ayurvedic practitioners treat diabetes with diet modification, Panchkarma, herbal preparations, yoga and breathing exercises.  This review set out to identify all published evidence about the effectiveness of this approach to treatment.

Clinical question

In diabetes, does Ayurvedic medicine, as compared with usual care, improve glycemic control or quality of life?

The evidence

The reviewers searched key bibliographic databases, including Medline, EMBASE, AMED and grey literature.  They also hand searched a range of relevant journals.

They found seven studies, comprising 354 participants.  These were evaluated and found to be of low methodological quality.  They all focused on type 2 diabetes.

The trials showed evidence of effectiveness in improving glycemic control (reducing HbA1c and fasting blood glucose).

Appraisal hints

  • Publication bias may be an issue with this review:  negative trials may exist that have not have been published.  There was not enough data for the reviewers to assess this statistically.  However, the reviewers do state that “greater beneficial response was found in the pharmaceutical company funded studies of proprietary Ayurvedic drugs”, suggesting that publication bias was an issue.
  • The studies used different preparations.
  • Consider the types of patient that were included in the individual studies.
  • There is not enough evidence here to rule in or rule out Ayurvedic.  Larger trials are needed.


The full text of this review is available from the Cochrane Library:

Sridharan K, Mohan R, Ramaratnam S, Panneerselvam D. Ayurvedic treatments for diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD008288. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008288.pub2.

Share this post: Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share via email


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.

More posts - Website

Follow me here –