Herbal and Natural Therapies
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 type 2 diabetes.
A number of clinical studies have been carried out in recent years that show potential links between herbal 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.
What herbal therapies are available?
Plant-based therapies that have been shown in some studies to have anti-diabetic properties include:
- Aloe vera
- Bilberry extract
- Bitter melon
While such therapies are commonly used in ayurvedic and oriental medicine for treating serious conditions such as diabetes, many health experts in the west remain sceptical about their reported medical benefits.
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.
Whatever your intended reasons for using these specific herbs, you must always discuss your plans with your doctor and diabetes healthcare team first to ensure they are safe for your condition and determine a suitable dose.
Further herbal therapies
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.
Many suffer from an inadequate knowledge base.
Allium sativum is more commonly known as garlic, and is thought to offer antioxidant properties and micro-circulatory effects. Although few studies have directly linked allium with insulin and blood glucose levels, results have been positive.
Allium may cause a reduction in blood glucose, increase secretion and slow the degradation of insulin. Limited data is available however, and further trials are needed.