Herbs for Diabetes

Since antiquity, herbs have been used to treat diabetes symptoms and root causes, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. Herbs for diabetes, when used under the care of a naturopathic practitioner, can help mitigate Type I Diabetes symptoms and hold off the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

Cinnamon can help diabetics manage their blood sugar levelsHerbs for diabetes include kino, gymnema, bitter melon, onion, garlic, fenugreek, Asian ginseng, bilberry, stevia, ginkgo, cinnamon and barberry. Note that if you are already receiving standard treatment for diabetes, DO NOT take any of these herbs without talking with your doctor. They may interfere with your blood sugar levels and interact with your medications.

Kino (Pterocarpus Marsupium) is also known as Dragon's Blood, Pitasara and Venga. It has been used for centuries in the Ayurvedic traditional medical system of India for diabetes, and is showing promise in modern studies on the disease. The gum resin of this Indian tree has the look of dried blood, hence the name. An alcohol extract of the resin and the flavonoid epicatechin extracted from the bark of the tree both have been shown to prevent pancreatic alpha cell damage in rats and to actually regenerate beta cells. These pancreatic cells directly or indirectly control metabolic processes to balance blood sugar levels in the blood stream.

Gymnema (Gymnema Silvestre) reduces the desire for sweets. It helps in the production of insulin in Diabetes Type 2 and reduces the blood sugar levels for both types 1 and 2. 500 mg per day of Gymnema extract is a substitute for oral medications to lower blood sugar for both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

Momordica Charantia or bitter melon is also known as balsam pear, and is also a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for diabetes, and is commonly used in TCM as well. It is widely cultivated in Africa, Asia and South America as a vegetable and as a diabetes treatment. Several compounds in bitter melon are confirmed as effective in treatment of diabetes. One of them, charantin, is a hypoglycaemic agent; bitter melon contains a polypeptide which is confirmed by clinical trials to reduce blood sugar when injected subcutaneously.

Allium Cepa and Allium Sativum are respectively onion and garlic. Both foods are helpful in diabetic treatment plus have the added benefits of being beneficial in treating cardiovascular problems. Both substances lower blood sugar levels.

Trigonella Foenum-Graecum is also known as Fenugreek. Fenugreek contains an anti-diabetic compound via the defatted portion of the seed. In preliminary studies it shows promise in helping diabetics metabolize carbohydrates, which in turn cuts down on blood sugar swings. This makes it potentially valuable for treating not just diabetes but also insulin resistance and hypoglycemia.

Vaccinium Myrtullus is commonly called European blueberry, or bilberry. A tea (decoction) of the leaves of this plant injected is only slightly less effective but less toxic than insulin. Its beneficial effects can last several weeks. The active ingredient is myrtillin, used to improve the functioning of the vascular system and effective in preventing diabetic retinopathy--an eye disorder associated with diabetes. Many naturopaths recommend both the leaf and the berries themselves as beneficial to diabetics and others with blood sugar issues.

Each of the other herbs for diabetes mentioned above is helpful in treating particular symptoms of the disease. Particular mention should be made of barberry-one of the best liver tonics available--and cinnamon, which make insulin three times as effective as without the use of cinnamon. For people with Type 2 Diabetes, cinnamon may lower blood glucose, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, with few side effects.

Generally, any herb that strengthens the pancreas or liver will be helpful for diabetes treatment. Continuing research into the use of herbs for diabetes may well result in a cure for the disorder. In the meantime these herbs for diabetes have been shown to be helpful in treating the disease or its symptoms. Talk with your natural health care provider to see if any of them may be able to help you.

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