Herbs for Diabetes
Blueberry leaves (Vaccinium myrtillus)
A decoction of the leaves of the blueberry has a long history of folk use in the treatment of diabetes. The compound myrtillin (an anthocyanoside) is apparently the most active ingredient. Upon injection it is somewhat weaker than insulin, but is less toxic, even at 50 times the 1 g per day therapeutic dose. A single dose can produce beneficial effects lasting several weeks.
Blueberry anthocyanosides also increase capillary integrity, inhibit free-radical damage and improve the tone of the vascular system. In Europe, it is used as an anti-haemorrhagic agent in the treatment of eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy.
Bilberry may lower the risk of some diabetic complications, such as diabetic cataracts and retinopathy.
Bitter melon, also known as balsam pear, is a tropical vegetable widely cultivated in Asia, Africa and South America, and has been used extensively in folk medicine as a remedy for diabetes. The blood sugar lowering action of the fresh juice or extract of the unripe fruit has been clearly established in both experimental and clinical studies.
Bitter melon is composed of several compounds with confirmed anti-diabetic properties. Charantin, extracted by alcohol, is a hypoglycaemic agent composed of mixed steroids that is more potent than the drug tolbutamide which is often used in the treatment of diabetes. Momordica also contains an insulin-like polypeptide, polypeptide-P, which lowers blood sugar levels when injected subcutaneously into type 1 diabetic patients. The oral administration of 50-60 ml of the juice has shown good results in clinical trials.
Cinnamon - Triples insulin's efficiency.
Experimental and clinical studies have demonstrated the antidiabetic properties of fenugreek seeds. The active ingredient responsible for the antidiabetic properties of fenugreek is in the defatted portion of the seed that contains the alkaloid trogonelline, nicotinic acid and coumarin.
Gymnema assists the pancreas in the production of insulin in Type 2 diabetes. Gymnema also improves the ability of insulin to lower blood sugar in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It decreases cravings for sweet. This herb can be an excellent substitute for oral blood sugar-lowering drugs in Type 2 diabetes. Some people take 500 mg per day of gymnema extract.
Ginkgo biloba extract may prove useful for prevention and treatment of early-stage diabetic neuropathy.
Onion and Garlic ( Allium cepa and Allium sativum)
Onion and garlic have significant blood sugar lowering action. The principal active ingredients are believed to be allyl propyl disulphide (APDS) and diallyl disulphide oxide (allicin), although other constitutents such as flavonoids may play a role as well.
Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that APDS lowers glucose levels by competing with insulin for insulin-inactivating sites in the liver. This results in an increase of free insulin. APDS administered in doses of 125 mg/ kg to fasting humans was found to cause a marked fall in blood glucose levels and an increase in serum insulin. Allicin doses of 100 mg/kg produced a similar effect.
The additional benefit of the use of garlic and onions are their beneficial cardiovascular effects. They are found to lower lipid levels, inhibit platelet aggregation and are antihypertensive. So, liberal use of onion and garlic are recommended for diabetic patients.
Stevia has been used traditionally to treat diabetes. Early reports suggested that stevia might have beneficial effects on glucose tolerance (and therefore potentially help with diabetes), although not all reports have confirmed this. Even if stevia did not have direct antidiabetic effects, its use as a sweetener could reduce intake of sugars in such patients.