When urine of diabetic patients contains a certain protein, which is a sign of kidney damage, or if their blood pressure is high, the doctors will normally prescribe them with medication to lower their blood pressure and protect their kidneys. Otherwise, patients who already have some form of kidney damage can end up with kidney failure.
However, these medications do produce side effects in some patients such as cough, which can be so bad for them that doctors might have to take off the medication. As such, other options should be explored for these patients.
Researchers at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in Singapore announced in April 2008 that they would conduct a study involving 60 diabetic patients. The purpose is to find out how well traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) could prevent kidney damage in diabetics, in comparison with the normal Western drug.
Over a period of 3 months, all the 60 patients in the study will be given the usual medication to lower their blood-sugar levels and for other conditions such as high cholesterol. However, these patients will be divided into 2 groups: half of them will be prescribed with enalapril, a commonly prescribed Western drug that protects kidney, and the other half will be given a concoction of 9 TCM herbs.
If the study can yield favorable results, TCM could well become a feasible alternative for those patients who cannot tolerate the normal medication.
In fact, a similar one-year study in Shanghai, China has shown that TCM prescription works as good as the standard drugs in protecting kidneys without the side effects.
Meanwhile, another 2 studies will be done by SGH to find out how effective the TCM can do for patients with blood disorders that cause a low platelet and anemia.
SGH are putting effort to conduct TCM-related research in 3 areas: patients for whom conventional medicine has failed, patients with chronic diseases, and cancer. If encouraging results could be found, those affected patients can at least be given with another option.