I always enjoy watching Big Pharma get beaten by techniques that have been in use for centuries.

The latest news on diabetes is great if you're looking for a natural way to lower your risk for this condition -- but bad for the drug companies, since it proves you can bypass them altogether and get healthy on your own.

A review of 16 clinical trials on Chinese herbs finds that these often overlooked remedies can lower blood-sugar levels in patients with pre-diabetes -- that frightening warning sign that too often turns into full-blown diabetes.

Pre-diabetics who combine certain Chinese herbs with lifestyle changes had twice the likelihood of returning to normal blood-sugar levels and were two-thirds less likely to come down with diabetes, according to the review published in the Cochrane Library.

And now, get ready for the cherry on top of this sugar-free sundae: The researchers found no risk of serious side effects from these herbs.

If you're a pre-diabetic or at high risk for diabetes, your doc may try to get you onto any number of drugs, including common meds used by diabetics. In fact, some people who don't even have diabetes are on four or five of these pills already.

But before you clear out cabinet space for all those drugs, ask your doctor if you can make some room for Chinese herbs instead -- because the research is promising, as long as you're willing to make some lifestyle changes too.

In other words, you'll need to lose some weight and watch what you eat.

That's right -- don't just take these herbs (or even meds, for that matter) and expect to cruise along on your old habits. It doesn't work that way. You need to commit to living better, or you risk falling right back into that diabetes bear trap.

The herbs with the biggest boost include Jiangtang Bushen, Xiaoke huaya and Tang Kang yin. Don't worry, I can't pronounce any of that either -- and since you won't find these at the chain pharmacy or the vitamin shop, you won't even have to try.

In most cases, these herbal blends are custom made, so you'll want to visit someone who specializes in them. They're easier to find than you might think. A good place to start your search is the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Click on "find a practitioner" and then "NCCAOM Certification Registry Search Engine." Be sure to select both "Chinese Herbology Certification" and "Oriental Medicine Certification" when you start your search, since both specialties include herbal remedies.

And that's not the only good news from the world of Chinese medicine.