Researchers are attempting, with the help of a special African tea, to develop a new treatment for type-2 diabetics. The tea is used as a treatment in traditional Nigerian medicine and is produced from the extract of Rauvolfia Vomitoria leaves and the fruit of Citrus aurantium. The scientists have recently tested the tea on patients with type-2 diabetes and the results are promising.
The researchers have harvested the ingredients for the tea in Africa, totalling approximately fifty kilos of leaves and three hundred kilos of fruit from the wild nature of Nigeria. Afterwards the tea has been produced exactly as local healers would do so. The recipe is quite simple: boil the leaves, young stalks and fruit and filter the liquid.
First mice, then humans
Associate professor Per Mølgaard and postdoc Joan Campbell-Tofte from the Department of Medicinal Chemistry have previously tested the tea on genetically diabetic mice. The results of the tests showed that after six weeks of daily treatment with the African tea, combined with a low-fat diet, resulted in changes in the combination and amount of fat in the animals' eyes and protection of the fragile pancreas of the mice.
The researchers have recently completed a four month long clinical test on 23 patients with type-2 diabetes and are more than satisfied with the result.
"The research subjects drank 750ml of tea each day. The [tea] appears to differentiate itself from other current type-2 diabetes treatments because the tea does not initially affect the sugar content of the blood. But after four months of treatment with tea we can, however, see a significant increase in glucose tolerance," said postdoc Joan Campbell-Tofte from the University of Copenhagen.
Changes in fatty acid composition
The clinical tests show another pattern in the changes in fatty acid composition with the patients treated in comparison with the placebo group.
"In the patient group who drank the tea, the number of polyunsaturated fatty acids increased. That is good for the body's cells because the polyunsaturated fat causes the cell membranes to be more permeable, which results in the cells absorbing glucose better from the blood," said Joan Campbell-Tofte.
The researchers hope that new clinical tests and scientific experiments in the future will result in a new treatment for type-2 diabetics.