New Insights into the Mechanisms of Chinese Herbal Products on Diabetes: A Focus on the “Bacteria-Mucosal Immunity-Inflammation-Diabetes” Axis

The authors of a recent article in the Journal of Immunology Research have proposed that many herbal monomers and formulae improve glucose homeostasis and diabetes through the BMID axis.” B means gut microbiota (mostly bacteria), M means mucosal immunity, I means inflammation, and D means diabetes. Chinese herbs have been traditionally used to treat diabetes, with minimal side and toxic effects. Here, the authors reviewed monomers such as berberine, ginsenoside, M. charantia extract, and curcumin and herbal formulae such as Gegen Qinlian Decoction, Danggui Liuhuang Decoction, and Huanglian Wendan Decoction. This review was intended to provide new perspectives and strategies for future diabetes research and product.

One of the things that has repeatedly struck me as I have explored the research on the human microbiome relationship that modern scientists are “discovering” between gut function, mucus production, and inflammation. I know it’s oversimplifying things, but that sure sounds a lot like what many of us in TCM have always thought was the main cause of chronic illness in modern society. Here are a few correlations. (Correlation just means that two things occur at the same time. Whether they are truly related in some meaningful way is another question.)

  1. Poor diet damages the spleen and stomach (correlates with imbalances in gut bacteria)
  2. Spleen weakness leads to the production of phlegm and dampness (correlates with imbalanced gut bacteria producing abnormal or inadequate mucus along the entire length of the digestive tract — mouth to anus)
  3. Long term accumulation of dampness and phlegm brews to form heat (correlates with the production of inflammatory molecules by gut bacteria)

It is almost as if a common language between traditional herbalists and modern microbiologists has suddenly emerged.