Herbs for Diabetes

Normally, the body's energy is provided by insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the use of glucose, which is the body's main source of energy. In diabetics, the body either lacks insulin or produces it, but uses it ineffectively, meanwhile glucose remains unused and circulating in the bloodstream, leading to a high blood-sugar level.

Four herbs have been shown to be safe and effective antidiabetics, consistently lowering blood glucose levels and improving the body's ability to use insulin.

1. Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia):

Bitter melon is a fruit of a climbing vine of the gourd family. This unripe fruit is frequently used in India, Africa, and Asia as a diabetic remedy. It is a mix of compounds called charantin and an unidentified insulin-like protein which lowers the blood sugar level. Its effects are gradual and cumulative.

2. Gurmar (Gymnema sylvestre):

The leaves of Gurmar, a climbing vine, have long been used in India to enhance the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin and to rejuvenate dysfunctional pancreatic cells. Gurmar has also been shown to lower levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides, which can lead to heart disease.

3. Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng):

Asian ginseng has long been used in Chinese medicine as an antidiabetic. A Finnish study showed that after two months of treatment with this, blood glucose levels significantly decreased.

4. Onion and Garlic (Allium cepa, A. sativum):

Research of the use of onion and garlic to treat diabetes is fairly new, but unknown compounds in these herbs have been shown to protect insulin molecules by prolonging their life.

5. High fiber diets are uniformly recommended for diabetics, especially soluble fiber, because it increases the length of time it takes for food to be digested and thus for glucose to enter the bloodstream. Flax (Linum usitatissimum) has improved glucose tolerance tests by 28%. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum) seeds are very rich in soluble fiber and, after ten days, decrease fasting glucose levels by 30%. Hypoglycemic agents found in fenugreek include: coumarin, fenugreekine, nicotinic acid, phytic acid, scopoletin, and trigonelline. All of these compounds work together to bring down fasting blood glucose levels.

8. Other possibilities: Many other herbs are now being studied for there possible effects on people with diabetes. Although no clinical studies have been done, juniper berries, cumin, Siberian ginseng, and coriander are quite promising for further investigation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, by test tube studies, have shown that extracts of cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, and bay leaf help insulin perform more effectively. There is no concrete evidence as of yet; however, cinnamon seems to be the most promising.

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