Ayurveda for diabetics: Indian researchers develop sugar-free herbal medicine

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The sugar free asava made by researchers at Lovely Professional University.
The sugar free asava made by researchers at Lovely Professional University.

Related tags Diabetes Ayurveda India

Indian researchers have developed a prototype of a sugar-free version of asava – a traditional Ayurveda medicine traditionally used to treat problems in the nervous, blood circulatory and respiratory systems.

Led by Dr Saurabh Singh, associate professor of the ayurvedic pharmacy department at the Lovely Professional University located in Punjab, the sugar-free asava was co-created with his PhD scholar Barinder Kaur.

The ayurvedic herbal drug formulation, which took three years to complete, has been patented under the India Patent Office.   

Asava, a biomedical fermented formulation, is used traditionally as a treatment for problems in the nervous system, blood circulatory system, and respiratory system.

However, most contain about 8% to 10% of sugar as the fermenting initiators, which also makes it unsuitable for consumption for the diabetic patients.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia,​ Dr Singh said the team had replaced sugar with natural sweeteners. A total of 14 ayurvedic ingredients, including Jasminum officinale, piper longum, eletteria cardamomum, piper cubeba, alongside liquid media, and fermenting agents are used for this formulation.

“Asava has extensive use for paediatrics and geriatrics, but there is some caution regarding its use in patients who are suffering from diabetes, because it contains high amount of sugar.

“So why not make this formulation sugar free so that diabetic patients can benefit?  

“That is when I started to think of a sugar-free asava formulation since 2011,” ​Dr Singh said.  

With a sugar-free formula, the product can help maintain the glucose level and reduce common side-effects of anti-diabetic drugs, such as dizziness, drowsiness, heartburn, stomach pain, constipation, and frequent urination. 

The formula also contains a blend of herbs useful for high fever, cardiac, and other allied problems, he said.

The recommended dosage ranges from 10ml to 30ml twice per day, depending on the health condition of the user.

India has about 72.9 million people suffering from diabetes.

He believes that this new formulation would serve as a good alternative for this group of people.

Diabetic patients were reluctant to consume traditional asava formulation since it was prepared using sugar, jaggery or honey as its fermenting initiators.’​”

Seeking international partnership

About five local ayurvedic pharmaceutical firms have expressed the interest to commercialise the formula.

At the same time, the university hopes to find out international opportunities in commercialising the product.

Commercialisation is expected to take place within a short span of time as the formulation has already passed pre-clinical trial.

The pre-clinical trial, which is not yet published in a scientific journal, was conducted using streptozotocine induced anti-diabetic model. Glibenclamide, a standard anti-diabetic drug, was used to compare the efficacy of the formulation.

Findings showed that the sugar-free asava displayed hypoglycemic action, which lowered the blood glucose level.

The formulation also enhanced the levels of the endogenous antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT).

Human clinical trials are not required since the ingredients are chosen from the compendium of ayurvedic medicine.

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