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June 2013

Salacia May Be Beneficial in Pre-diabetes Management

Supplementation with Salacia reticulate leaf and root bark extracts may benefit patients with pre-diabetes, according to a new study.

Salacia plant species are found in India, Sri Lanka, China and other Southeast Asian countries. Salacia species have been used in traditional systems of medicine, such as Ayurveda and Unani, to treat diabetes, obesity, gonorrhea, rheumatism, itching and asthma. Extracts from Salacia species (including Salacia chinensisSalacia reticulata and Salacia oblonga) are consumed in Japan, Korea, the United States and India as a food supplement to prevent and manage obesity and diabetes.

In a recent study, researchers randomly assigned 29 pre-diabetic patients with high cholesterol levels to receive 500 milligrams ofSalacia extracts (leaf or root bark extract) or placebo daily along with lifestyle changes for 6 weeks. Blood sugar and cholesterol levels were evaluated as the main outcome measures.

By week 6, the researchers found that cholesterol and blood sugar levels improved in the Salacia group when compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, patients treated with root bark extract saw significant reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol and blood sugar levels by weeks 3 and 6. Those treated with leaf extract saw only significant reductions in blood sugar levels by week 6. The authors noted that adverse effects were lacking.

The authors concluded that Salacia extracts may be beneficial for patients with pre-diabetes and high cholesterol. Larger-scale, well-designed clinical trials are necessary to further evaluate these findings.

In addition to Salacia, many other integrative therapies have been studied for their potential benefits in the management of pre-diabetes and diabetes. In persons with type 2 diabetes, preliminary research has shown that glucomannan lowers both fasting and postprandial (after eating) blood glucose levels. Additionally, several studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) may help control and improve blood sugar levels. Additional studies on this topic are needed.

For more information about integrative therapies with evidence of benefit for diabetes and high cholesterol, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.

For more information about Salacia, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.

To comment on this story, please visit Natural Standard's blog.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Shivaprasad HN, Bhanumathy M, Sushma G, et al. Salacia reticulata Improves Serum Lipid Profiles and Glycemic Control in Patients with Prediabetes and Mild to Moderate Hyperlipidemia: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Trial. J Med Food. 2013 Jun;16(6):564-8. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.2751. 

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