Natural Products Insider

APR 2012

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aspartate.2 Research has shown consuming diets high in simple sugars stimulates serum chromium losses; this, coupled with a low intake of dietary chromium, may lead to chromium deficiency, which is associated with impaired glucose and lipid metabolism.3 Chromium's role in insulin management is thought to be behind its positive ef fects on diabetes management. Supplementing with chromium picolinate at levels higher than the upper limit of the Estimated Safe and Adequate Daily Dietary Intake (100 mcg and 500 mcg) had significant beneficial effects on glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c, a lab test that shows average blood sugar levels over three months), glucose, insulin and cholesterol in subjects with type 2 diabetes.4 A 2002 study from India found chromium supplementation improved glycemic control in type 2 diabetic patients, and it appears to be due to an increase in insulin action rather than stimulation of insulin secretion.5 A 2006 study from the Czech Republic found type 2 diabetics who supplemented with 400 mcg chromium-enr iched yeast experienced improvements in blood glucose and oxidative stress compared to placebo.6 Also in 2006, Taiwanese researchers reported supplementation with 400 mcg/d of chromium-containing milk powder for 16 weeks resulted in lower fasting plasma glucose levels, fasting insulin levels and improvement of metabolic control in male patients with type 2 diabetes.7 Zychrome, an enhanced chromium ingredient from InterHealth Nutraceuticals, af fected insulin levels and funct ion more than chromium picolinate by 1.4-fold and 2.0-fold, respectively, in a study presented at the 52nd American College of Nutrition Meeting in November 2011. Botanicals Gymnema is a well-known natural blood sugar management ingredient. Gymnema sylvestre, a woody climbing shrub native to India and Africa, has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. In London, researchers noted an alcoholic extract of Gymnema sylvestre stimulated insulin release in pancreatic beta-cell lines in vitro. 8 A 2003 Indian study found oral administration of 200 mg/kg/body weight of an alcoholic extract of the Gymnema montanum leaf for three weeks reduced blood glucose, increased plasma insulin and decreased free radical formation in plasma of diabetic rats.9 In humans, another Indian study from 1990 found 400 mg/d of an Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract given to type 2 diabet ic pat ients reduced blood glucose, HbA1c and glycosylated plasma proteins (an index of long-term blood glucose levels) enough that conventional drug dosage could be decreased.10 Also, in subjects with insulin-dependent diabetes, 400 mg/d of a water-soluble ext ract of the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre reduced fasting blood glucose and HbA1c and glycosylated plasma protein levels in an Indian study.11 Another t ree-derived ingredient, French maritime pine bark, is also known for its blood-glucose controlling properties. A 2006 German study on the branded extract Pycnogenol (from Horphag Heal th Sciences) found it may of fer a new treatment of diabetic ulcers;12 diabetes can lead to lower limb ulcers that are very slow to heal. In this study, Pycnogenol taken both orally and topically produced 89-percent complete healing at six weeks versus 61 percent healing in the group that received prescription drugs. A 2006 Italian study found 50-mg capsules tid of Pycnogenol for four weeks decreased skin flux at rest in the foot (indicating a reduction of ulcers), decreased capillary filtration and improved venoarteriolar response in patients with diabetic ulcers compared to controls.13 Beyond diabetic ulcers, research has shown combining 100 mg/d Pycnogenol and conventional diabetes treatment lowered glucose levels and improved endothelial function in patients with type 2 diabetes after 12 weeks.14 In 2007, German researchers explored Pycnogenol's anti-diabetic effects, even though an increased insulin secretion was not observed af ter administration of the extract to patients.15 They analyzed the inhibitory activity of Pycnogenol, green tea extract and acarbose (as Glucobay┬« from Bayer Vital, a synthetic inhibitor of the carbohydrate alpha-glucosidase), and found Pycnogenol exhibited the most potent inhibition of alpha-glucosidase compared to the two other compounds. Pycnogenol also lowered fasting blood glucose levels dose dependently (until 200 mg/d) without affecting insulin levels in a separate study.16 24 INSIDER ┬ą APRIL 2012 DIABETES

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