Many common herbs and spices are claimed to have blood sugar lowering properties that make them useful for people with or at high risk of diabetes.
A number of clinical studies have been carried out in recent years that show potential links between herbal therapies andimproved blood glucose control which has led to an increase in people with diabetes using these more ‘natural’ ingredients to help manage their condition.
Here are details of five such herbal remedies that have shown promise of useful anti-diabetic activity, along with what is known of their mechanism of ac
Treatment Of Diabetes
This relative of the blueberry contains powerful antioxidants in its fruit and leaves. These antioxidants, called anthocyanidins, seem to help prevent damage to tiny blood vessels that can result in nerve pain and retinopathy damage to the eye’s retina). Animal studies have also suggested that bilberry may lower blood sugar.
Several studies have found that bitter gourd or karela extracts have the ability to reduce the activity of the alpha glucosidase enzyme and this helps to reduce the hyperglycemia (increase in sugar levels) that typically follows a meal. This insulin-like action is believed to be due to a substance called polypeptide-P. Bitter melon has also been found to contain a phytonutrient called charantin that allows the glucose from the blood to be moved into the muscles, adipose (fat) tissue and liver, lowering blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Numerous laboratory studies and clinical trials have documented the hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon. Studies have revealed that the fruits and seeds of the bitter melon plant contain compounds called saponins that help to increase insulin production by repairing the damaged beta pancreatic cells.
Moreover, an insulin-like compound called charantin present in bitter melon helps to reduce the glucose level in people suffering from insulin dependent diabetes. By lowering the blood sugar level, bitter melon also helps to diminish the risk of developing diabetes related complications.
Gymnema Sylvestre is a popular herb used for treating diabetes. The leaves of the plant contain gymnemic acid, a hypoglycemic compound, which normalizes the glucose level in diabetics by increasing insulin secretion. Scientists speculate that the anti-diabetic phytochemical in the herb aids regeneration of the residual beta cells in the pancreas of insulin-dependent diabetics.
Diabetes can also be brought under control with the herb ginseng. Out-of-control diabetes is primarily responsible for diabetes related complications. Researchers have observed that taking a specific amount of ginseng daily for about 12 weeks helps to normalize the hemoglobin A1C level, which indicates that the diabetes in under control.
Fenugreek seeds can be taken to bring down the blood sugar level. The seeds contain phytochemicals that activate the beta cells in the pancreas, thereby stimulating insulin secretion. Moreover, fibers present in the seeds reduce sugar absorption in the stomach and intestine, lowering the level of sugar in the blood naturally.
Cinnamon is beneficial for diabetics. Studies have shown that diabetics can experience around 24 percent reduction in the blood sugar level within forty days by consuming one to six grams of cinnamon each day. Cinnamon contains phytochemicals called polyphenols and the mineral chromium that stimulate insulin secretion.
The leaves of bilberry are beneficial for people bothered by high blood sugar levels. Bilberry leaves are especially effective in preventing diabetes related complications. Flavonoids present in the leaves of the plant improve circulation, thereby improving wound healing and reducing the risk of developing numbness in the feet. The flavonoids in bilberry leaves are also good for the eyes. They can diminish the risk of diabetic retinopathy.