Best Diabetes Herbs & Spices For Natural Therapy To Reverse Diabetes
Many common diabetes herbs and spices are claimed to have antioxidant and blood sugar lowering properties that make them useful for people with or at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
A number of clinical studies have been carried out in recent years that show potential links between herbal or natural therapies and improved blood glucose control, which has led to an increase in people with diabetes using these more ‘natural’ ingredients to help manage their condition.
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is necessary for the body’s overall health. Erratic blood sugar levels can affect the body’s ability to function normally and even lead to complications if left unchecked.
Some diabetes herbs and spices found in nature do a tremendous job of naturally lowering blood sugar levels, making them a boon for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
What’s more, being nature’s multi-taskers, herbs and spices also produce overall health benefits beyond just helping balance blood sugar.
We want to clarify one thing right away – not everything on our list can be classified as ‘herbs’. However, they are all from natural sources.
Herbs come from the leafy and green part of the plant.
Spices are parts of the plant other than the leafy bit, such as the root, stem, bulb, bark or seeds.
Gymnema Sylvestre Diabetes Herbs
This plant’s Hindi name translates as “sugar destroyer,” and the plant is said to reduce the ability to detect sweetness. It’s regarded as one of the most powerful diabetes herbs for blood-sugar control.
This powerful herb promotes glucose utilization in the cells thus lowering blood glucose. It also prevents the liver from releasing more glucose into the blood stream, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides.
Some people feel Gymnema Sylvestre is one of the most powerful herbs for treating high blood glucose – both type 1 and 2 diabetics. Also Gymnema Sylvestre may help rejuvenate beta cells in the pancreas thus helping heal the condition.
Gymnema Sylvestre is a vine native to Central & South India. Used in traditional Indian medicine since the 6th century BC, the leaves of this plant contain ‘gymnemic acids’ that have the amazing ability to slow down the transport of glucose from the intestines to the bloodstream.
Some scientists even believe that Gymnema Sylvestre extract can help repair and regenerate pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin!
There was a clinical trial conducted at Department of Biochemistry, Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences Madras, India that studied 22 patients with type 2 diabetes.
It reported that supplementing the body with 400 mg of Gymnema Sylvestre extract daily resulted in remarkable reductions in blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c and glycosylated plasma protein levels. What’s even more remarkable is that by the end of this 18 month study, participants were able to reduce the dosage of their prescription diabetes medication. Five were even completely off medication and attaining stable blood sugar levels with Gymnema Sylvestre supplementation alone.
Other research conducted at the same institute studied possible regeneration of the islets of langerhans in rats that were made diabetic for the study and then given gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. The diabetic rats were able to double the number of their islets and beta cell numbers. Researchers felt that the herbal therapy was able to bring blood sugar stability by repairing the pancreas and increasing insulin secretion.
Cinnamon Diabetes Herbs
This is because it contains 18% polyphenol content in dry weight. This popular Indian spice can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control.
According to a study published in Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine, “cinnamon lowered HbA1C by 0.83% compared with standard medication alone lowering HbA1C 0.37%.
Taking cinnamon could be useful for lowering serum HbA1C in type 2 diabetics with HbA1C >7.0 in addition to usual care.”
A review found that subjects with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes who were given cinnamon showed positive results in many different areas such as:
- blood sugar levels
- insulin levels
- insulin sensitivity
- blood fat levels
- antioxidant levels
- blood pressure
- body mass
- time to process food
These are important markers for people with diabetes. From this research, it may be said that cinnamon is important for everyone with type 2 diabetes to take.
The researchers did note that the type of cinnamon and the amount taken does have an effect on the results, however. Only the highest quality cinnamon or cinnamon extracts in capsule form should be used as a complementary treatment method.
Turmeric Diabetes Herbs
A popular spice used in Indian cooking, and the main ingredient of ‘curry’ that has taken the world by storm, turmeric has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that all come together to help diabetics manage more stable blood sugar levels.
It helps boost immunity and prevent infections that diabetics are often vulnerable to.
Studies conducted on rats prove that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is effective in reducing plasma glucose level and HbA1C as well as improving the lipid profile.
Many diabetics also suffer from arthritis, since the sugar laden blood and inflammatory processes typical to diabetes often damage joints. Turmeric, with its anti-inflammatory abilities, also helps with these joint pains.
Fenugreek Diabetes Herbs
This action is similar to the prescription drug Acarbose.
A recent study found that people with prediabetes were less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes while taking powdered fenugreek seed. This was caused by the seed increasing the levels of insulin in the body, which also reduced the sugar in the blood.
Researchers found that the seed helped to lower cholesterol levels in patients as well.
Fenugreek can be cooked into certain dishes, added to warm water, or ground into a powder. It can also be added to a capsule to be swallowed as a supplement.
Bitter melon Diabetes Herbs
Momordica charantia, also known as bitter melon, is a medicinal fruit. It has been used for centuries in the traditional medicine of China and India. The bitter fruit itself is cooked into many dishes, and the plant’s medicinal properties are still being discovered.
One discovery being backed by science is that bitter melon may help with symptoms of diabetes. One review noted that many parts of the plant have been used to help treat diabetes patients.
Bitter melon seeds were given to both people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to reduce their blood sugar levels. Blended vegetable pulp mixed with water also lowered blood sugar levels in 86 percent of the type 2 diabetes patients tested. The fruit juice of the bitter melon also helped to improved blood sugar tolerance in many cases.
Eating or drinking the bitter melon can be an acquired taste. Luckily, similar effects were noted with extracts of the fruit taken as supplements as well.
There is not enough evidence to suggest that bitter melon could be used instead of insulin or medication for diabetes. However, it may help patients to rely less on those medications or lower their dosages.
Ginger Diabetes Herbs
Multiple studies conducted on rats show that ginger extract can have a significant anti-hyperglycemic effect.
It lowers serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and increases the HDL-cholesterol levels. Diabetes is a digestive disorder.
Diabetics often face issues with acid reflux. Ginger soothes the entire digestive tract, giving diabetics another reason to add ginger to their supplement regimen.
Ginger is often used to help treat digestive and inflammatory issues. However, a recent review posted to shows that it may be helpful in treating diabetes symptoms as well.
Ginseng Diabetes Herbs
It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as one of the most potent herbs for blood sugar control.
Indian ginseng, also called Ashwagandha, offers fantastic all round benefits.
Scientists are also researching the connection between diabetes and Alzhiemer’s. Panax Ginseng is a type of ginseng that is able to help with both diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
In some studies utilising American ginseng, decreases in fasting blood glucose were reported. Varieties include Korean ginseng, Siberian ginseng, American ginseng and Japanese ginseng.
In some fields the plant, particularly the panax species, are hailed as ‘cure-all.’ As is the case with many of the herbs employed around the world in the treatment of diabetics, further long-term studies are needed to verify the efficacy of ginseng.
Aloe Vera Diabetes Herbs
However, the plant has many lesser-known benefits as well. These range from helping digestive issues to possibly even relieving type 2 diabetes symptoms.
One review analyzed many studies using aloe vera to treat symptoms of diabetes. Their results strongly suggested an antidiabetic potential for aloe. Subjects given aloe showed lower blood sugar levels and higher insulin levels.
Further tests showed that aloe helps to increase how much insulin is produced by the pancreas. This could mean that aloe helps to restore bodies with type 2 diabetes or protect them from further damage. The researchers called for more studies to be done on aloe and its extracts to be certain of these effects.
There are many ways to take aloe. Juiced pulp is sold in many markets and added to drinks, and extracts are put into capsules to be taken as supplements.
Milk thistle Diabetes Herbs
The most studied extract from milk thistle is called silymarin, which is a compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is these properties that may make milk thistle a great herb for people with diabetes.
A review notes that many of the studies on silymarin are promising, but the research is not strong enough to begin recommending the herb or extract alone for diabetes care.
Many people may still find that it is an important part of a care routine, especially since the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help protect against further damage caused by diabetes.
Milk thistle is most often taken as a supplement.
Other Diabetes Herbs
The herbs and plant derivatives listed below have been employed traditionally by native people in the treatment of diabetes, in the areas in which they grow.
Bauhinia forficata and Myrcia uniflora
Bauhinia forficata grows in South America, and is used in Brazilian herbal cures. This plant has been referred to as ‘vegetable insulin’. Myrcia uniflora is also widely employed in South America. Studies utilising the herbs as tea infusions suggest that their hypoglycaemic effects are overrated.
Coccinia indica is also known as the ‘ivy gourd’ and grows wild across the Indian subcontinent. Traditionally employed in ayurverdic remedies, the herb has been found to contain insulin-mimetic properties (i.e; it mimics the function of insulin).
Significant changes in glycaemic control have been reported in studies involving coccinia indica, and experts believe that it should be studied further.
Ficus carica, or fig-leaf, is well known as a diabetic remedy in Spain and South-western Europe, but its active component is unknown. Some studies on animals suggest that fig-leaf facilitates glucose uptake.
The efficacy of the plant is, however, still yet to be validated in the treatment of diabetes.
Ocimum sanctum is an herb employed in traditional ayurverdic practises, and is commonly known as holy basil. A controlled clinical trial showed a positive effect on postprandial and fasting glucose, and experts predict that the herb could enhance the functioning of beta cells, and facilitate the insulin secretion process.
Okra is fast gaining a reputation as a so-called ‘superfood’ for people with or at risk of diabetes or cancer.
Commonly referred to as ladyfingers, or by its biological names Abelmoschus esculentus and Hibiscus esculentus, okra is known to have a positive effect on blood sugar control, among many other health benefits.
Opuntia streptacantha (nopal) is commonly known as the prickly-pear cactus in the arid regions where it grows.
Inhabitants of the Mexican desert have traditionally employed the plant in glucose control. Intestinal glucose uptake may be affected by some properties of the plant, and animal studies have found significant decreases in postprandial glucose and HbA1c.
Once again, to validate the prickly-pear cactus as an effective means of aiding diabetic patients, long-term clinical trials are needed.
Further herbs that have been studied, and may have positive effects for diabetic patients include:
- Cinnamomym tamala
- Eugenia jambolana
- Phyllanthus amarus
- Pterocarpus marsupium
- Solanum torvum and
- Vinca rosea
General Caution For Diabetes Patients
Talk to you doctor before adding any new pill to your regimen, especially if it has the potential to lower your blood sugar. You may need to check your blood sugar more often and possibly have your doctor adjust your medication dosage.
In fact, because certain herbs, vitamins and supplements may interact with diabetes medications (including insulin) and increase their hypoglycemic effects, it is often argued that use of natural therapies could reduce blood sugars to dangerously low levels and raise the risk of other diabetes complications.
Before you leave, be sure to check out 67 ways you can support the campaign to stop diabetes in Africa.