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Herbs for Diabetes

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/18/2010

According to studies, herbs can help control blood sugar levels in those with Type I and Type II diabetes. Learn what herbs for diabetes have shown positive results.

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    Herbs for Diabetes

    Garlic and Onions (both can help lower blood sugar) Insulin is a hormone that is released from the pancreas (where it is produced) when glucose (sugar) levels increase.

    Insulin helps move glucose into the cells, where it is converted into energy. If glucose is unable to enter the cells, it will remain in the bloodstream until it is excreted from the kidneys. This can lead to serious complications.

    With Type I diabetes, the pancreas is unable to make sufficient amounts of insulin. Because of this, insulin replacement is required.

    With Type II diabetes, blood glucose levels rise because the body's cells resist insulin.

    The following herbs for diabetes can help control glucose levels:

    Gymnema

    In Type I diabetes, gymnema appears to intensify the action of insulin. In one study[1], 27 individuals with Type I diabetes on insulin therapy were given an extract of gymnema leaves. The extract was shown to reduce insulin requirements, reduce fasting blood sugar levels, and improve blood sugar control.

    In a study[2] involving people with Type II diabetes, all 22 participants that received gymnema extract had improved blood sugar control. 21 of the 22 were able to decrease their medication (oral hypoglycemic drugs) dosage considerably (5 of those were able to stop their medications).

    Blocking the sensation of sweetness is another benefit of gymnema. When the extract is applied to the tongue, it will help reduce cravings for sugar. Taking tablets or capsules will not produce this effect.

    Garlic and Onions

    Several studies have shown garlic and onions to lower blood sugar levels.[1&3] Sulfur-containing compounds are believed to be responsible by competing with insulin for insulin-inactivating sites in the liver, resulting in an increase of free insulin. Both herbs can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

    Ginseng

    In one study[4], people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes showed much improvement after receiving ginseng for 8 weeks, including reduced fasting blood sugar levels, improved physical activity, reduced weight, and elevated mood.

    Other

    Chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, and fenugreek are other herbs for diabetes that can help lower blood glucose levels.

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    References

    • [1] Ind J Med Res 65 (1977): 422-29
    • [2] J Ethnopharmacol 30 (1990): 295-305
    • [3] Indian J Exp Biol 30 (1992): 523-26
    • [4] Diabetes Care 18 (1995): 1373-75
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    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.