What do you think of when you hear the phrase "herbal supplements"? Quack medicine? Snake oil? One of those cheesy natural-method pitch emails we all get? When I first heard about NaturEra from some colleagues who are highly respected diabetes educators, I have to admit, I was very skeptical. But the company was allowed to present this summer at both the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions and at the poster session for the American Association of Diabetes Educators' conference, so I decided to do a little digging to see what exactly the buzz was about this unconventional diabetes management treatment.
An Israeli-based company, NaturEra has launched two products for people with diabetes, aptly named Sugar Crush (for people with type 2) and Sugar Crush Daily (also for people with type 2, but people with type 1 can use it as well). Both products are "liquid dietary supplements" taken twice a day, designed to help PWDs lower fasting blood sugar, prevent post-meal spikes, and lose weight.
Initially selling their products only overseas, NaturEra is now making their debut in the United States. Looking at the ingredient label might make you think this is some kind of science experiment using ingredients from the grocery store, but Uri Man, President of NaturEra, tells me otherwise:
"Sugar Crush and Sugar Crush Daily are so effective because of their unique, and proprietary formulation of herbal ingredients. There are no gimmicks. Instead, it is the exact percentage or concentration of the active material in each ingredient that makes the Sugar Crush formulas the most advanced products available."
A likely pitch, I suppose... but unlike most bogus "alternative treatments," Uri and his team have actually attempted to scientifically quantify their claims with a clinical study, which was presented by the ADA and AADE. Their research has shown that for people with type 2 diabetes, Sugar Crush products reduced fasting blood glucose levels by 15-20% in 10 days of use, and by 30-40% in 30 days of use.
Still, what mainstream medical professional would recommend something not FDA-approved for diabetes? Well, I talked to one such Sugar Crush fan, Janis Roszler, RD, CDE and winner of 2009 AADE Diabetes Educator of the Year Award, to find out what she thinks:
"I first heard about Sugar Crush when Uri... emailed me about their products. I was impressed to hear that their research was going to be featured at this year's ADA Scientific Sessions and American Association of Diabetes Educators' conference. Because their products are made in Israel, I contacted Nechama Cohen, founder of the Jewish Diabetes Association to see if she had heard of Sugar Crush. She is an award-winning diabetes author, lives in Israel, and has type 1 diabetes. To my surprise, she told me that she has used Sugar Crush for more than 3 years to help improve her diabetes control. I then had a member of my website, dearjanis.com, try it. He has type 2 and had been struggling with his control. After several days, he experienced a significant improvement in his morning glucose levels and began to lose weight. Over his trial month, he lost about 3 pounds per week. Not a scientific study, but I sure took notice!"
We spoke to one PWD currently using Sugar Crush, Harry Zuker (whose last name ironically means 'sugar' in German). He reports that after taking Sugar Crush, his average blood sugar started to drop without having to change his diet or exercise more. His Lantus intake dropped by 12 units, but he said he still used his Glybride-Metformin as usual. He also complained about the bad taste of the product, but with that hodge-podge of herbs and supplements, I suppose you can't expect gourmet flavor!
For those of you intrigued enough to purchase Sugar Crush, it's not going to come cheap. Sugar Crush and Sugar Crush Daily together (the recommended combo for people with type 2) will run you $129.95 for 30 days, while Sugar Crush Daily alone, all you'd need if you have type 1, runs $64.95 a month.
Anyone who uses Sugar Crush, or decides now to give it a try, please report back on your experience.