Monday, May 11, 2009

Drink tea and be well!

Patients with type 2 diabetes may possibly benefit from drinking a native concoction of Nigerian tea, as studies performed by the researchers from the University of Copenhagen show. From the Department for Medicinal Chemistry (what a wonderful department!), researchers conducted the study by following the blood glucose and fatty acids levels of 23 patients plus the placebo group; this is after they have tried the same treatment with type 2 diabetic mice. At the end of their study, researchers found that when a reduced fat diet is coupled with drinking 750mL of the Nigerian tea per day, there is a significant reduction in blood glucose levels and a rise in polyunsaturated fatty acids after four months of clinical trials. The exact mechanisms of how the tea works is not clear, but researchers surmise that the increased levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which make cell membranes more permeable, may help cells in the body absorb glucose better. The tea was concocted exactly as native healers do it: boil the leaves and young stalks of Rauvolfia vomitoria (also known as the swizzle plant) along with the fruits of Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) and filter the liquid. Extracts from the rauvolfia vomitoria plant are traditionally used for its herbal alkaloids to reduce blood pressure and treat certain mental illnesses, and bitter orange extract is often used as a stimulant and appetite suppressant in herbal drugs. While it would be much more helpful to know exactly how these two plant extracts work to help type 2 diabetic patients manage their glucose levels (this would also help to dispel any disbelief or cynicism regarding herbal medicines), this particular research finding does offer some hope for type 2 diabetic patients. And why not? If Western medicine cannot cure, it cannot dismiss other methods.

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