Try These “Top Ten” Herbs for Diabetes

| April 11, 2013

In my last post, I explained some of the many benefits of the herbal extract berberine. But berberine is far from being the only herb whose anti-diabetic properties have been validated in clinical trials and which has been found to perform as well as, or better than, standard diabetes drugs. Here are ten of the most effective herbs for diabetes, all of which are available as supplements in the UK:

1. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) — seeds contain compounds chemically similar to biguanide drugs, such as Metformin, the most widely prescribed antidiabetic medicine. In one clinical trial, fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 25 per cent after eight weeks – exactly the same reduction that is achieved by Metformin.

2. Bitter melon (Mormodica charantia)
— improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar levels. A study that compared the effects in diabetes patients of bitter melon extract with the now-banned drug Avandia (rosiglitazone), showed that bitter melon could be more effective than Avandia in the management of diabetes and its complications.

3. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) — shown in clinical trials to reduce postprandial (after meal) blood sugar levels by around 20 per cent. Animal studies suggest it could also help prevent diabetic retinopathy and heart disease. Use a standardised extract with a guaranteed ginsenoside content and take 40 minutes before a meal for best results.

4. Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentophyllum) — found to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients, when taken regularly over 12 weeks. Fasting blood sugar dropped 3.0 mmol/l on average in these studies, enough to bring the level within the “normal” range, for many people with diabetes.

5. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) — contains curcumin, which improves the function of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. In one study, 240 pre-diabetic patients were given curcumin or placebo for nine months. At the end of the trial, not one patient in the curcumin group had developed type 2 diabetes, compared with 16.4 percent of the placebo group.

6. Garlic (Allium sativum) — has both antidiabetic and cardiovascular benefits. One clinical trial gave type 2 diabetes patients either garlic extract or placebo, together with Metformin, for 24 weeks. The garlic group showed significant reductions in fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol and triglycerides, and an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

7. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) — an effective anti-diabetic herb, as well as supporting healthy liver function. When type 2 diabetes patients were given milk thistle or placebo, along with regular medication, for four months, milk thistle led to significant drops in blood sugar, cholesterol and blood fat readings, beyond those achieved by medication alone.

8. Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre or cowplant)
— traditionally used in India to treat diabetes. A clinical trial found that fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels in diabetic subjects improved after 60 days of treatment with gymnema. The same study showed that isolated pancreatic beta-cells secreted more insulin in the presence of gymnema extract.

9. Ivy gourd (Coccinia grandis) — contains compounds that inhibit a liver enzyme involved in sugar metabolism. In one clinical trial, patients with type 2 diabetes were given ivy gourd extract or placebo for 90 days. Fasting blood sugar levels in the ivy gourd group dropped 16 per cent lower than in the placebo group and postprandial levels were 18 per cent lower.

10. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) — stimulates cellular receptors to respond more efficiently to insulin and helps prevent insulin resistance. A review of eight separate clinical trials concluded that cinnamon is effective at reducing blood sugar levels both between and after meals, and that supplementation may help reduce complications from diabetes.

Using one or more of these herbs is likely to reduce your need for other diabetes medications, so always let your doctor know what you are doing, start off with a low dose and monitor your blood sugar levels carefully.

In my next post, I shall be returning to a nutrient that I have written about before –vitamin D. New research has found that having low levels of this vitamin as a young adult significantly raises the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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Category: Natural Diabetes Alternatives

Comments (5)

Testimonials are based on the personal experience of individuals. Results are not typical and the potential benefits of taking any drug or supplement may vary depending on your individual needs and health requirements. Please consult your GP before making any changes to your medical regimen.

  1. Jack Bolton says:

    Dr. Hum,
    What is the therapeutic dosage of garlic for the treatment of type 2 diabetes?

    Jack Bolton

  2. Jack Bolton says:

    Dear Dr Hum,
    I want to thank you for what can only be described as a miraculous turnaround of my overall health, and a significant change in my symptoms of type two diabetes. Since listening to you on the World Diabetes Summit, May 6th or so… I have experienced the following changes, after having added some of these very herbs you recommended: My fasting blood glucose levels have dropped from an average of 147 ml/dl to 97 ml/dl, and I have lost 50 pounds. I have experienced increased mental acuity and lessening of peripheral artery symptoms, and my appetite has been dramatically reduced. In fact, together with the lifestyle changes I have made, and dietary changes (I have gone to a strict ketogenic diet, eliminated all grain glutens, dairy and “corporate” foods) my health has changed drastically. I have not even had time to get lab results from my doctor on my A1C levels and cholestrol levels or lipids. Thank you for your website and for your expertise in treating those with type 2 diabetes.
    Jack Bolton

  3. melinda says:

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Your a life savior

  4. Martin Hum says:

    I’m pleased that you found the information helpful. It’s always good to get feedback!

  5. rafiasultana says:

    V good information thanks a lot