Research Advances (Part 1)
Posted Monday, October 27, 2008

The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health have just released their ninth annual report on the significant advances in dietary supplement research, a summation of 25 selected breakthroughs in the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) field. Over a series of posts here we'll sum up the principle findings for you, and link to some additional resources for each study. Hope you enjoy the first of our series!


Genistein and Bone Metabolism in Postmenopausal Women

It has long been accepted that due to fluctuating estrogen levels, menopausal and postmenopausal women are at a greater risk for osteoporosis. As various undesirable side effects from estrogen-replacement therapies have reared their heads over the years, alternative options have become increasingly popular. Genistein is an isoflavone and phytoestrogen found in soybeans which has been shown to aid in reducing bone loss levels in postmenopausal women. The benefits of genistein appear to be considerably age-based, as it has actually been correlated to negative results in younger populations, especially pregnant women. Despite this, when genistein was taken as a supplement in older women, it was found to help new bone formation and density, while decreasing bone loss. Additionally, genistein testing has shown favorable results for blood-sugar control and heart health.

DSIB: Genistein

Annals of Internal Medicine: Effects of the Phytoestrogen Genistein on Bone Metabolism in Osteopenic Postmenopausal Wome

Fenugreek Seed and Diabetes

Fenugreek seeds have been used since ancient times for both medical concerns and as a spice for cooking. It has been used for treating people suffering from diabetes, open wounds, abscesses, bronchitis, and digestive and kidney problems. Only recently though has the seed been scientifically evaluated for its anti-diabetic effects.

Alkaloids and proteins high in lysine are thought to be behind the seed's beneficial properties, and fiber content is thought to help lower blood sugar. Experimental testing on dogs and smaller mammals have shown that the fiber works to limit blood glucose levels and and enhance antioxidant levels. Fenugreek has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels without lowering "good" cholesterol (HDL).

Serum insulin and insulin secretion were unaffected by fiber supplementation, and research results indicated that the dietary fiber of fenugreek caused overall anti-diabetic effects and enhancement of peripheral insulin activity. Currently, nearly 8% of the US population is afflicted with some stage of diabetes.

DSIB: Fenugreek

British Journal of Nutrition: Soluble dietary fibre fraction of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seed improves glucose homeostasis in animal models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes by delaying carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and enhancing insulin action

Salacia Oblonga and Type 2 Diabetes

Several species of the Salacia genus have long been used in Indian medicine. Uses have ranged from treating obesity and gonorrhea to alleviating asthma and rheumatism patients. Salacia oblonga in particular has gained popularity of late due to its potential for treating diabetics.

Recent research which tested the effects of Salacia oblonga has found that the root extract of the plant works to control glucose and insulin responses after high carbohydrate meals for individuals with type 2 diabetes. The findings suggest that Salacia may be very beneficial for managing glucose after meals, especially when the patient has been without food for a significant amount of time before the meal.

The American Journal of Clinicial Nutrition: Extract of Salacia oblonga lowers acute glycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes




For more of the series, check out part 2 and part 3.


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