Controlling type 2 diabetes mellitus with herbal medicines: A triple-blind randomized clinical trial of efficacy and safety

J Diabetes. 2016 Sep;8(5):647-56. doi: 10.1111/1753-0407.12342. Epub 2015 Dec 1.


Background: The use of alternative medicines is common in patients with diabetes mellitus. The primary aim of the present study was to determine the effects of cinnamon and Caucasian whortleberry (Vaccinium arctostaphylos L.) on blood glucose control, lipid profile and body mass index (BMI) in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2DM).

Methods: In all, 105 T2DM patients were recruited to the present randomized triple-blinded clinical trial. Patients were randomly divided into three groups and administered either placebo, cinnamon or whortleberry supplements (1 g/day) for 90 days. Fasting blood glucose (FBG), serum insulin, lipid profiles, and HbA1c were measured before and after the study.

Results: There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics among the three groups. After treatment, FBG, 2-h blood postprandial glucose and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) scores were significantly reduced in patients in the whortleberry group, but not in the placebo group. After treatment, there was a significant difference in BMI between the cinnamon and control groups (P = 0.02). There were no significant differences in any variables between the cinnamon and whortleberry groups (P>0.05 for all). In addition, there was a significant decrease in all indices of glucose control in all the cinnamon and whortleberry groups (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: There were no significant differences in blood glucose levels, insulin sensitivity or lipid profile among the three groups. However, the use of cinnamon and whortleberry in addition to conventional medical treatment is recommended to adjust weight and blood glucose levels in patients with T2DM, respectively.

Keywords: cinnamon; diabetes mellitus; herbal medicine; whortleberry; 糖尿病; 肉桂; 草药; 越橘。.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum / chemistry
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Fasting / blood
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism
  • Herbal Medicine / methods*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Research Design
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaccinium / chemistry


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Plant Extracts