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Corosolic Acid (Glucotrim)

You might remember me telling you about MHCP a while ago–in the April 2002 issue. It’s a flavonoid found in cinnamon that can mimic the action of insulin and work synergistically with insulin in your body to help regulate blood sugar more effectively. Quite a few of my patients with type 2 diabetes, and even a few with type 1, have told me their blood sugar control is significantly better with MHCP-containing supplements. But now there’s new information on another plant that can help regulate your blood sugar, too.

Last summer, researchers reported that a substance called corosolic acid can help regulate blood sugar. Corosolic acid is found in the leaves of the banaba plant that grows in the Philippines. Subjects using the softgel form of a corosolic acid preparation called Glucotrim each day for two weeks experienced a 30 percent drop in blood sugar levels. Subjects taking the capsule form of Glucotrim had a 20 percent drop. Researchers considered both levels of blood sugar reduction significant.1

In a prior study, some of the same researchers observed that individuals receiving the oil-based corosolic acid softgel formula also had an increased tendency toward weight loss–an average of about 3.2 pounds.

A whole blood-sugar controlling program even greater than its parts

Other researchers have found that corosolic acid may not be the only active ingredient in banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa) leaves. A study published in the journal Planta Medica in 2001 compared a whole-leaf extract of banaba with insulin in cell cultures. The researchers concluded that the whole herb has a glucose lowering effect.2 Another study reported that banaba leaf extract contains at least three active ingredients that affect blood sugar.

If you want to take the greatest advantage of banaba leaves’ ability to help regulate blood sugar–and maybe even help with a little weight loss–look for softgel products containing banaba leaf extract standardized to contain 1 percent corosolic acid.

Right now, there are a couple of different banaba products to try. First there’s the one I mentioned above, Glucotrim. There’s also another formula called Glucose Control Guard, which combines banaba extract/corosolic acid along with other diabetes-controlling nutrients. Glucotrim is available in natural food stores, compounding pharmacies, and the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary. Glucose Control Guard is mostly available through physicians and other health care practitioners.

I’ve talked to a few people with type 2 diabetes who have tried Glucotrim, and they say it has helped lower their blood sugars by the same 20-30 percent found by the researchers. A few of them also mentioned a small weight loss, too. Several who’ve used both the MHCP-containing supplement Insulife along with Glucotrim have found even greater blood sugar improvement. I haven’t heard any reports on Glucose Control Guard’s effects, but I am impressed by the combination of nutrients it contains, so it may be worth a try.

If you decide to go with either Glucotrim, Insulife, or a combination of these two products, make sure you’re also using a good combination supplement that also includes some of the nutritional blood-sugar controlling basics like chromium (at least 1,000 micrograms), biotin (5-10 milligrams), magnesium (250-300 milligrams), vanadium (50-200 micrograms) and the entire B-complex.

-Jonathan V. Wright, MD