In a study from the Keck School of Medicine of USC, scientists found some mind-body practices can be nearly as effective as commonly prescribed drugs at reducing blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Mind-body practices such as yoga and meditation are increasingly popular tools for promoting health and combating diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
Approximately 66% of Americans with type 2 diabetes use mind-body practices and many do so because they believe it helps control their blood sugar.
Until now, however, whether mind practices can reduce blood glucose levels has never been rigorously quantified.
In the study, researchers analyzed data from randomized controlled trials conducted across the globe between 1993 and 2022.
They found 28 trials in which people with type 2 diabetes began a mind-body practice in addition to receiving medication and compared their results with people who only received medication to reduce their blood sugar levels.
This study is the first to analyze a range of mind-body practices including meditation, qigong, yoga, and mindfulness-based stress reduction, and their effect on blood glucose levels.
It showed that all mind-body practices led to significant reductions in blood sugar levels.
Taken as a whole, the mind-body practices averaged a .84% reduction in hemoglobin A1c, a measure of the average blood glucose level for the past 3 months.
Yoga, the most-studied modality, provided the largest benefit, about a 1% reduction in hemoglobin A1c.
The team noted that a 1% reduction is particularly notable because metformin, the most prescribed diabetes drug, reduces hemoglobin A1c in people with type 2 diabetes by 1.1% on average.
The research suggests that mind-body practices could be used as both a complementary nonpharmacological treatment for people with type 2 diabetes and possibly as a preventive measure as well.
New effective methods for keeping type 2 diabetes under control are needed, since only about half of the people with type 2 diabetes succeed at reducing their blood sugar levels to the target level of 7% hemoglobin A1c.
At the same time, the number of Americans who are pre-diabetic has grown to about one-third in recent decades.
If you care about blood sugar, please read studies about how to control diabetes apart from blood sugar levels, and people with diabetes can eat bread without their blood sugar rising.
For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about the link between COVID-19 and diabetes, and results showing scientists find ways to treat diabetes without drugs.
The study was conducted by Fatimata Sanogo et al and published in the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine.
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