Good news if you love Italian food: a new study says that the herbs rosemary and oregano both might be able to help fight diabetes.
Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia, PhD, of the Division of Nutritional Sciences and Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found herself facing an ongoing problem with some of her diabetic research subjects. Even though about 8 percent of Americans suffer from Type 2 diabetes, not everyone was able to afford medicine to regulate the disease, and other sufferers struggled with how to make healthier lifestyle choices.
de Mejia and her team started looking at other, less expensive ways to help diabetics keep their disease in check. After learning that some herbs can help reduce the levels of glucose – the main element that is measured and controlled by diabetics – in the blood, they tested different herbs to see if any of them could interfere with a diabetes-related enzyme in the same way that one common diabetes drug does. The result? Both rosemary and oregano showed signs of being able to do exactly that. These preliminary findings were published in a paper in the Agricultural & Food Chemistry journal in June.
"There is a need to identify natural compounds that can aid in the management of this disease," the authors wrote in the introduction to their study, which also noted that Type 2 diabetes currently affects 8.3% of Americans and cost the United States $175 billion in 2012 The researchers used both dried and fresh version of the herbs and didn’t find a difference in their levels of effectiveness, which means someone could just buy a bottle of the dried stuff rather than have to worry about buying perishable herbs on a weekly basis or growing it themselves.
However, you shouldn’t run to the grocery store herb aisle just yet. Though ACS researchers are optimistic about oregano and rosemary’s abilities to help fight diabetes, they believe more testing is necessary to be sure.
“We need to test interaction studies with the current drugs to make sure there will not be an antagonistic effect and, on the other hand, may be a synergistic effect,” de Mejia told Yahoo Health about the study. Her next goal is to test the herb compounds on people instead of just in a lab. “We need clinical studies to demonstrate a dose-response of the products.” But if she and her team are right, the way we treat diabetes could become much less expensive.