Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do You Really Want to Take the Ayurvedic Herb Coccinia cordifolia for Type 2 Diabetes?

A few months ago we repeated the glowing reports on the Ayurvedic herb Coccinia cordifolia, also known as koval or ivy gourd:

"At the beginning of the study, the average fasting blood sugar in the test group was 132 mg/dl (7.3 mmol/L), and the average post-prandial (after-eating) blood sugar was 183 mg/dl (10.2 mmol/L).

The effects of the herb gradually increased over 90 days. By the end of the third month of the clinical trial, the average fasting blood glucose among the diabetics who got the herb had fallen to 111 mg/dl (6.2 mmol/L), while the diabetics who did not get the herb actually had slightly higher morning blood glucose levels. Among the diabetics getting the herb, post-prandial (after-eating) blood sugars also improved, to an average slightly below 150 mg/dl (8.3 mmol/L). The improvement in blood sugar levels was confirmed by an average drop of 0.6 per cent in HbA1C.

The researchers noted that similar percentages of diabetics getting the herb (94 per cent) and diabetics getting the placebo (93 per cent) were able to stick to their diabetic diets. The difference in blood sugars was due to the herb."

And we stand by this report. However, it turns out there is another effect of the herb. It increases women's fertility by increasing estrogen, which leads to greater thickening of the lining of the uterus for the reception of the fertilized egg, if any,and by counteracting prolactin, which stimulates milk production in new mothers and which also stops ovulation. Reducing the response of a woman's body to prolactin may also (1) increase sexual arousal but (2) shorten orgasm, although these effects do not happen in every woman who takes the herb.

Whether all of this is a good thing or a bad thing, of course, is not for us to decide. But we do want our readers who are women of reproductive age to know that using this herb for diabetes may make pregnancy more likely, and may influence a woman's sex life. There are no corresponding effects in men or in women who have passed menopause.

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