Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 30 million people worldwide. In the United States alone, nearly 10% of adults over 20 years old suffer from it. While there are several medications that help reduce blood sugar levels, some patients still require insulin injections or oral hypoglycemic drugs.
Ginseng, cinnamon, and many other botanicals and plants have been studied for their effectiveness against type II diabetes. Some studies suggest that they may help lower blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
In addition to being safe, botanical treatments offer additional benefits such as improving sleep quality and reducing stress. They are also inexpensive and easy to use.
There are many herbs and spices used for the treatment of diabetes. These include some common ones such as cinnamon, ginger, garlic, turmeric, fenugreek, etc. Some of these herbs and spices contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and other compounds that improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels.
The following herbs and spices are considered effective for controlling blood sugar levels:
Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, vanillin, and coumarin. Studies show that cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon helps prevent damage to pancreatic cells, reduces inflammation, and prevents cell death. In one study, researchers found that cinnamon extract lowered blood sugar levels in diabetic rats by 50%. A daily dose of 250 mg/kg body weight of cinnamon improved insulin resistance and decreased fasting blood glucose levels.
Turmeric is known for its curcumin content. Curcumin is an active ingredient in turmeric that possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antidiabetic effects. One study showed that curcumin helped reduce fasting blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics. Another study showed that curcuma extract lowered blood sugar levels by 40% in diabetic mice.
Ginger has been shown to be beneficial for lowering blood sugar levels. It contains a compound called zingiberene which acts like a natural insulin. Ginger can be taken orally or applied topically. The recommended dosage is 500 mg three times per day.
4. Aegle marmelos (Bilva)
This fruit is used in Ayurveda for treating diabetes. It is known as "Vishkamangadu", meaning "the one that cures diabetes". Ayurveda says that the juice of this fruit is very effective in curing diabetes.
According to Ayurveda, the medicinal properties of the fruits are due to the presence of saponin glycosides. These compounds form a protective film around the cells of the body. They prevent the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. These compounds are present in high concentrations in the pulp of the fruit.
Onions are one of the oldest known vegetables. They are rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, D, E, K, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Garlic is one of the most popular foods around the world. It is used extensively in cooking because it adds flavor and aroma. It is also used medicinally. In fact, garlic is considered to be an essential part of healthy living. It has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, fight infections, boost immunity and even protect against certain types of cancers.
7. Aloe vera
Aloe vera contains many vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, iron, calcium, zinc, copper, mannose, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and fiber. Aloe vera has long been used to treat diabetes because it helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Neem is one of the most ancient plants known to mankind. It has been used traditionally for several purposes including as food, medicine, fuel, fiber and timber. Azadirachtin, a compound found in neem leaves, has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and insecticidal properties.
9. Coccinia indica
Ivy gourd extract contains compounds called alkaloids, including coccinellin A and B, which are similar to the active ingredient in human insulin. They work by stimulating the pancreas to produce insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
The study found that ivy gourd extract improved glucose metabolism in mice fed a high fat diet. This suggests it might improve blood sugar control in humans too.
10. Bitter gourd
In traditional medicine, bitter melon (Momordica charantias Linn.) has long been known for treating diabetes mellitus. A study conducted in India found that ethanol extracts of M. charantia inhibited glucose6-phosphatase activity and stimulated gluconeogenesis. This suggests that inhibition of glucose6-Pases and stimulation of gluconeogensis might contribute to its antdiabetic action.
Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum) is a sacred plant which is used in Ayurveda medicine. It has been shown to help in weight loss, diabetes and stress, among others. Aqueous extracts of holy Basil leaves showed hypoglycemic effects in diabetic animals. In India, holy basil is called "Queen of medicines". It is widely used in Indian cuisine.
12. Phyllanthus amarus (Bhui-amlaki)
Methanol extracts of Phyllanthus amarus exhibited potent antioxidant activity in vitro. Methanol extracts of P.amorus leaf and stem bark inhibited lipid peroxidation induced by ferrous ions/ascorbate system in rat brain homogenate. The IC50 values of both extracts were found to be 0.17 mg/ml and 0.21 mg/ml respectively. These findings indicate that the methanol extracts are potential antioxidants and could be useful in the management of oxidative stress related diseases like diabetes mellitus and Alzheimer disease.
Fenugreek seeds are used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes. Scientists have discovered that it contains a compound called 4hydroxy leucine which increases glucose transport into pancreatic beta cells, improving insulin sensitivity. In addition, it has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and protect against inflammation. Research suggests that fenugreek could help people with type 2 diabetes.
14. Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi)
The plant known as guduchi is native to India and grows throughout tropical regions. It is traditionally used to treat fever, cough, asthma, bronchitis, diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, malaria, rheumatism, skin diseases and tuberculosis.
A study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that oral administration of Tinospora cordifoliae extract reduces blood sugar levels and increases glucose tolerance in animals. Researchers conducted experiments on rats and mice and concluded that the extract could improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
15. Andrographis paniculata
Andrographis paniculatum, commonly known as Andrographis panicula or Indian pennywort, is a plant native to tropical Asia. In Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used for thousands of years to treat fever, diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, liver problems, stomach ulcers, and many other conditions.
The herb contains compounds called diterpenes, which are similar to those found in ginseng. These compounds have been shown to lower blood glucose levels in animals and humans.
Gymnema sylvestre is an herb that comes from India. Its name means "sugar destroyer". People with Type I or Type II Diabetes who take gymnema saw significant improvements in their health. There is evidence that taking it improves the health of people suffering from Type II Diabetes.
17. Costus (Insulin plant)
Costus igeus showed significant hypoglycemic activity in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Leaves of Costus igeus possess better antidiabetic potential than the root extract. This study provides evidence for the traditional use of Costus igeous against diabetes mellitus.
Dr. Vandana K.