Salacia oblonga use for blood sugar control and other uses, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
February 7 2014

Salacia oblonga has a long tradition of use for thousands of years as an Indian Ayurvedic herb. A few studies have looked at the effects in humans and the early results are promising in terms of blood sugar control. In Japan it has been sold as a food supplement for several years. Salacia oblonga plant grows in limited regions of India and Sri Lanka, and it is not yet well known in the U.S. It is also known as Saptrangi and Ponkoranti.

Benefit of Salacia Oblonga
This herb may be beneficial in blood sugar control. Salacia oblonga contains two alpha-Glucosidase inhibitors: salicinol and kotalanol 9. For more information on natural ways to decrease blood sugar levels, see Diabetes.

Extract of Salacia oblonga lowers acute glycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007. Jennifer A Williams, Yong S Choe, Michael J Noss, Carl J Baumgartner. From the Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories, Columbus, OH; Radiant Research, Cincinnati, OH, and Radiant Research, Edina, MN.
This study evaluated the effect of an herbal extract of Salacia oblonga on postprandial glycemia and insulinemia in patients with type 2 diabetes after ingestion of a high-carbohydrate meal. Sixty-six patients with diabetes were studied in this randomized, double-blinded crossover study. In a fasted state, subjects consumed 1 of the following 3 meals: a standard liquid control meal, a control meal + 240 mg Salacia oblonga extract, and a control meal + 480 mg Salacia oblonga extract. Both doses of the Salacia extract significantly lowered the postprandial positive area under the glucose curve (14% for the 240 mg extract and 22% for the 480 mg extract) and the adjusted peak glucose response (19% for the lower dose and 27% for the higher dose of extract) to the control meal. In addition, both doses of the salacia extract significantly decreased the postprandial insulin response, lowering both the positive area under the insulin curve and the adjusted peak insulin response (14% and 9%, respectively, for the 240 mg extract; 19% and 12%, respectively, for the 480 mg extract) in comparison with the control meal.

J Clin Diagn Res. 2012. Antidiabetic and hypolipidemic effect of salacia oblonga in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats.

Research
An herb long used in traditional Indian medicine appears to control the rise in blood sugar that follows a meal -- suggesting, researchers say, that it could help treat or even prevent type 2 diabetes. Their study of 39 adults without diabetes found that a beverage made from the herb, known as Salacia oblonga, stemmed participants' normal post-meal rise in blood sugar. There was a similar reduction in blood levels of insulin, which helps shuttle sugar from the blood and into cells to be used for energy. The herb, according to the study authors, seems to work similarly to oral diabetes drugs known as alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, which impede the body's absorption of carbohydrates. The study, which was funded by Columbus-based Abbott Laboratories, is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The next step is to test Salacia oblonga's ability to slow post-meal sugar absorption in people with diabetes, study co-author Dr. Steven R. Hertzler an assistant professor of nutrition at Ohio State University in Columbus. For their study, the researchers had 39 healthy adults drink four different liquid meals on four separate days. Three of the beverages had varying doses of Salacia oblonga, along with generous portions of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber; the fourth beverage did not contain the herb. The researchers found that the drink with the largest Salacia oblonga dose -- 1,000 milligrams -- cut the participants' post-meal blood sugar rise by about one-quarter compared with sugar levels after the herb-free drink. An even larger decline was seen in insulin levels. Good blood sugar control is vital in diabetes because it reduces the risk of long-term complications such as kidney dysfunction, heart disease, vision loss and nerve damage. The hope is that Salacia oblonga can help diabetics maintain healthy blood sugar levels over time, and thereby help prevent complications. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, January 2005.

Salacia oblonga side effects
Early indications suggest that salacia oblonga may cause gas and cramping owing to its effects on carbohydrate absorption. 

Safety evaluation of an extract from Salacia oblonga.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2003.
Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories, Department, Columbus, OH , USA.
We evaluated the safety of a hot water extract of S. oblonga (salacinol extract) supplemented to or processed into a medical food. Thirty male Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned among one of three treatments: (1) EN-0178 (control, liquid diet), (2) EN-0178+salacinol (as 1 plus 500 mg of salacinol extract per 253 g diet, which was added to product immediately prior to feeding), (3) EN-0195 (as 1 plus 500 mg of salacinol extract per 253 g diet, which was added during product manufacture). After 14 days of free access to dietary treatments, rats were sacrificed, blood collected and organs weighed. Rats consuming salacinol extract had reduced weight gain and feed intake. We conclude that salacinol extract, in a medical food consumed for 2 weeks in amounts estimated at 10-fold greater than proposed for human intake, did not result in clinical chemistry or histopathologic indications of toxic effects in male Sprague-Dawley rats.

Questions
Q. I have a 126 pulse rate, had a EKG no heart disease at all just a fast pulse rate. I am a diabetic and control my sugar with a Indian herb salacia oblonga with good results. I was told fish oil capsules will raise my blood sugar compared to using flax seed oil capsules to help control pulse rate. Could you please advise me on this matter.
   A. We are not aware of fish oil raising blood sugar, you may ask the person who told you this to show the research.

An herb long used in traditional Indian medicine appears to control the rise in blood sugar that follows a meal. Researchers contend that this could help treat or even prevent type 2 diabetes. Their study of 39 adults without diabetes found that a beverage made from the herb, known as Salacia oblonga, stemmed participants' normal post-meal rise in blood sugar. There was a similar reduction in blood levels of insulin, which helps shuttle sugar from the blood and into cells to be used for energy. The herb, according to the study authors, seems to work similarly to oral diabetes drugs known as alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, which impede the body's absorption of carbohydrates. The study, which was funded by Columbus-based Abbott Laboratories, is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

I have read that the suggested dosage for Salacia is 2,500 to 5,000 mg , or the equivalent in extract. I have found it available in in two extract forms. Both are capsules. One contains 500mg of 5:1 extract, the other is 500mg of 20:1 extract. I do not understand what “equivalent” meant in this case. Which of these would be the equivalent? Should they be taken with meals? Or just at intervals throughout day to “build up” in your system? I am under the care of a licensed nutritionist. She is not familiar with the uses of this herb and needs more info to guide me.
   Research in the Western world with this herb is quite limited and not much is known about the best way to use it or which potency extract is ideal. There are many companies who sell it and each has their own way of extracting the active substances within it. At this point it is difficult to know or rely on claims of 5:1 or 20:1 since no standards are available that tell us what exactly is meant by these numbers and what they actually contain in terms of the concentration of active chemicals in the plant. Therefore, for practical purposes, if a person wishes to take this herb, one approach is to begin with once capsule a day and monitor over time what the effects are and to increase the dosage as required.