Onion bulb extract could reduce high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) and cholesterol levels, according to new research. If the findings are developed further, it could form the basis of a new treatment for diabetes.
The study, presented at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego, was conducted on diabetic rats. When the rats were given Allium cepa – or onion bulb extract – in combination with metformin, their blood glucose and cholesterol levels were significantly reduced.
The rats, all of which were engineered to have diabetes, were divided into three groups. All the groups were given metformin, and each was given a different dose of onion extract – 200, 400, or 600 milligrams per kilograms of body weight. The aim was to determine whether onion extract could enhance the effects of metformin.
The rats given the larger doses of onion extract reduced their blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Although the research is still in its early stage, the results are promising. Should the effects be the same on humans, the researchers hope to purify the onion extract, so that only the important ingredients would be administered.
Anthony Ojieh, lead investigator, said: “Onion is cheap and available and has been used as a nutritional supplement. It has the potential for use in treating patients with diabetes.
“Onion is not high in calories. However, it seems to increase the metabolic rate and, with that, to increase the appetite, leading to an increase in feeding.”
“We need to investigate the mechanism by which onion brought about the blood glucose reduction. We do not yet have an explanation.”

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