Objectives: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) may be caused by elevated oxidative stress, inflammation, and hyperglycemia. The phytochemicals in several herbal medicines are reported to effectively improve diabetes and to ameliorate diabetic complications. The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, and ginger as supplementary remedies in T2D.
Methods: This randomized controlled, clinical trial included 204 T2D patients. The participants were randomly assigned to four intervention groups receiving 3 glasses of black tea and either 3 g cardamom, or cinnamon, or ginger, or 1 g saffron and one control group which consumed only 3 tea glasses without any herbal medicine for 8 weeks. Markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, fasting blood sugar, lipid profile, and anthropometric measures were evaluated at baseline and after 8 weeks of intervention.
Results: After 8 weeks of intervention, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and saffron consumption had significant effects on total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL levels (p < 0.05) compared with controls. However, the herbal products did not have significant effects on measures of glycemic control, anthropometry, inflammation, and oxidative stress. In within-group comparisons only, cinnamon intake significantly decreased fasting blood sugar (FBS).
Conclusions: The herbal remedies examined had significantly beneficial effects on cholesterol, but not on measures of glycemic control, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Based on the contradictory results reported in the literature, the effects of herbal medicine in diabetic patients should undergo further detailed investigation.