Herbal remedies can be a very effective way to treat various health conditions. In an earlier article I noted that the 4 best herbs for everyday health are honey, lemon, ginger and garlic, and that herbs don’t have to be exotic to work well and this is also the case with diabetes. So what are the best herbs for diabetes?
The best herbs for reducing Blood Sugar levels
Evening Primrose Oil
Ok so these are all popular herbs, in particular garlic, cinnamon and cardamom are found in most people’s kitchens!
Garlic, for example, is extremely popular and is used by lots of people in their everyday coking, especially in such foods as pasta, lasagne and of course garlic potatoes. Cinnamon is a popular food additive, which provides added flavour and of course cardamom is a popular spice, which is widely used in Asian foods. Also, cardamom and cinnamon are sometimes used in teas and of course cinnamon rolls are yummy, though not so good for diabetes!
So these three foods are popular herbs for diabetes. So do they measure up against diabetes?
In clinical studies all three of these herbs garlic, cinnamon and cardamom they produced an average drop of around 10% in blood sugar levels1. One study, for example, shows all three producing a reduction of around 10%. Study results will vary, but you can probably expect a 10% fall, if you take a good amount (as in several grams a day) of either of these herbs. Of course if you take a good amount of garlic, cinnamon on and cardamom, chances are that a synergistic effect will take place and a greater result will come about!
The Best Herbs for Reducing Symptoms of Diabetes
If you look around the web you will find a lot of information which suggests that it is possible to cure diabetes; now in my opinion it is not possible to cure diabetes, because some organic damage has occurred and short of a miracle or a miracle drug (which is yet to be created), it is not possible to cure diabetes. However, while it is not possible to cure diabetes, it is possible to both reduce the effects of diabetes as in blood sugar levels and also the symptomatology of diabetes.
Put it this way, if we reduce the blood sugar levels, then the body will be under less stress and there will be fewer symptoms. Also we can use herbs for symptom reduction. Add it all up and we can see that borderline diabetic patients can basically reverse their diabetes, so long as they watch their sugar levels, otherwise they will end up with full blown diabetes. As for patients who have full blown diabetes, it is possible to reduce symptomatology to the degree that, so long as they watch their diet, exercise and take some herbs etc. that they can be largely symptom free.
Also, when we think about diabetic symptoms, we also have to think in terms of long-term symptoms. It’s one thing to have lowish blood sugar levels, but we also have to think about long-term organic damage. A diabetic patient whose fasting blood sugar levels are 20mmol/360mgdl, obviously will have symptoms such as skin rashes, itchiness, irritation, fatigue etc. But by the same token a person might have a fasting blood sugar level of 9mmol/162mgdol and can feel perfectly fine, but this is still too high and long-term health issues will arise!
The ideal fasting blood sugar level should be below 5.5mmol/100mgdol, but in diabetic patients they should aim for around the 7.2mmol/130mgdol figure. Which should reduce most long-term health problems, but still some long-term health issues will more than likely come about, even when blood sugar levels are maintained to this reasonable degree.
Herbs and physical exercise (physical exercise is vital for diabetic patients) and healthy eating should help the diabetic patient to come in at around the fasting blood sugar level of 7.2mmol/130mgdol, but even still over the long-term cholesterol levels can be high, damage to the cardiovascular system and heart and kidneys and even retinopathy (damage to the yes) an nerve damage can still occur, over a period of decades. So herbs can really help not only to reduce blood sugar levels but ales they can help with the long-term side effects of diabetes, which is really important!
Bilberry is high in anthocyanosides, which blood vessel strength and which may help to prevent retinopathy. A secondary benefit of bilberries is on blood circulation on blood circulation and vascular health.
In a study on retinopathy and bilberry consumption 160mg produced promising results2. So to protect eyes against retinopathy a regular intake of bilberries may help to reduce the chances of developing retinopathy.
Also its worth everyone’s while to take bilberry as it also helps to boost red blood cell levels, strengthen collagen tissues, which includes such tissues as tendons, ligament and cartilage, which in turn will reduce many of the orthopaedic complaints, which go in tandem with the aging process. Furthermore bilberry helps to reduce cholesterol levels, which are good for heart health!
Fenugreek is a popular supplement and it’s understandable as to why. Fenugreek improves anaemia, stomach complaints, respiratory complaints, mouth ulcers, inflammation, wounds and insomnia. But also fenugreek helps improve blood sugar levels and it helps to reduce cholesterol levels. Cholesterol tends to be an issue with diabetics and one of the long-term side effects of diabetes is heart health, so any herbs which can reduce cholesterol is obviously a boon!
Regarding dosage, different studies suggest different dosages, varying anywhere from 2grams a day to 100grams a day! but it probably best to veer on the side of high rather than low.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil is a popular health supplement and is widely used because it has many great benefits which include osteoporosis care, menopausal symptoms, its good for skin, it’s an anti-inflammatory and it’s good for heart health, but also its good for nerve damage!
Evening Primrose Oil is high in gamma linoleic acid which helps in regeneration of damaged nerve cells. In one study they noted that patients who were given a daily dosing of 480mg of Evening Primrose Oil, over a period of one year demonstrated signs of regrowth3. Now this was a positive result in people who already have nerve damage, but if a diabetic patient takes Evening Primrose Oil regularly, there is a good chance that they either won’t develop nerve damage or that the nerve damage will be reduced. This is a considerable benefit to diabetics, as nerve damage, particularly in the extremities is commonplace. Never damage in the feet, for example, often results in the diabetic patient injuring their feet, without realising it, and in some cases this can become dangerous and result in amputation!
Final Thoughts on herbs for Diabetes
We can clearly see that there are some very potent herbs for diabetes, and that these herbs are common and easily found. We can see in the list above that each one (garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, bilberry, fenugreek and Evening Primrose Oil) that each of these will help to reduce blood sugar levels.
Fenugreek , bilberry and Evening Primrose Oil will have a good effect on reducing blood sugar levels, but are included here mainly for their health boosting effects, which help to reduce cardiovascular issues , promote eye and nerve health. The first few herbs listed are all capable of reducing blood sugar levels by around 10%.
Obviously if you mix up several of these herbs together, the likelihood of sugar levels reducing to a greater degree are high, plus each of these herbs have many great benefits, which will boost your overall health and wellbeing.
Also, the herbs listed here are not exclusive; there are many herbs which will help to reduce both the severity of the blood sugar and the symptoms which came with them.
In some cases, for pre-diabetics especially, diabetes can be reversed. Whereas for full blown diabetics (diabetics type 1 and diabetics type 2) cannot really be cured, but the severity of diabetes can be reduced to the degree that few if any symptoms can be noticed, in some cases, and even where symptoms persist, at least they can be radically reduced.
So don’t feel that if you have diabetes that it’s the end of good health or that you have to take a ton of drugs for life. Diabetes is a serious health condition and if you are diabetic you better take it seriously. Check out your blood sugar levels regularly and get routine check-ups with a good diabetologist, but also do some exercise and take these herbs.
They are cheap and tasty and will greatly help to improve your health and will positively impact your diabetes!
- [PDF] CINNAMON, CARDAMOM AND GINGER IMPACTS AS EVALUATED ON HYPERGLYCEMIC RATS.
MA El-yamani – J. of specific education, 2011 – mans.edu.eg
- Endocrine, Visual and Auditory Systems Vision preservation during retinal inflammation by anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract: cellular and molecular mechanism
Seiji Miyake1,2,3, Noriko Takahashi1,2, Mariko Sasaki1,2, Saori Kobayashi3, Kazuo Tsubota1 and Yoko Ozawa1,2
1Laboratory of Retinal Cell Biology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
2Department of Ophthalmology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
3Wakasa Seikatsu, Kyoto, Japan
- Keen H, Payan J, Allawi J, et al. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy with gamma-linolenic acid. The gamma-Linolenic Acid Multicenter Trial Group. Diabetes Care. 1993;16:8-15. abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8380765