As diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, becomes more prevalent in society there is continuing interest in ways to treat the condition. Conventional medical wisdom advocates the use of medication and a change in lifestyle as a way to manage diabetes. A change in lifestyle generally means taking on more exercise and altering eating habits. Altering eating habits include monitoring the types of foods that a person eats, especially fatty foods and carbohydrates. Thus a diabetic is urged to take responsibility, in consultation with a dietitian or doctor, for their diet. As people become more involved with their meal plans interest has grown in the types of supplements and herbs good for diabetes. This article will discuss some of the main herbs that are believed to be useful for diabetics.
This list of herbs can be used as a supplement or in cooking :
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) leaves are used as a herb or Fenugreek seeds are used as a spice. They can be taken as a supplement or in cooking. In a limited clinical test on humans, Fenugreek was seen to stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreatic cells and could help to lower the blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon or Cassia is a spice that is derived from the bark of the Cinnamon or Cassia tree. It can be used in cooking and is popular in Chinese food. University tests using Cassia (often marketed as cinnamon) on humans show significant lowering of blood glucose levels in those that took higher dosages to the placebo test cases.
Banaba (Lagerstroemia Speciosa) is a tree common in South East Asia. The leaves of the tree are used as a traditional medicine in parts of Indonesia and the Philippines. Tests in Japan and the USA found that the active ingredient in Banaba is Corosolic acid, that has the effect of lowering blood sugar levels.
Ginseng or Asian Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) is a herb that can be added to cooking, taken as a supplement or tincture. Chinese medicine has extolled the power of ginseng as a general cure all and booster of the immune system. It has also been suggested that it can lower glucose levels in blood and lower blood pressure.
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a member of the ginger family Zingiberaceae. The active ingredient in Turmeric is Curcumin. In clinical tests on rats, curcumin was seen to lower glucose levels in rats. Turmeric is used in cooking, especially Indian curries and other cuisine from South East Asia.
Stevia also known as Sweet leaf or Sugar leaf is a shrub found in South and Central America. As the name suggests, it is noted for it's sweet taste. Extracted Stevia is widely used as a sweetener alternative to sugar in Japan. It has little effective on the blood sugar level so is useful for diabetics.
Neem Tree (Meliaceae Azadirachta) is part of the Mahogany family. Neem leaves are used in Ayurvedic medicine and are thought to reduce blood sugar levels.
Ginkgo Biloba is the extract of leaves taken from the Ginkgo tree. The extract contains flavonoid glycosides that are noted for antioxidant qualities and improving blood circulation, especially to small capillaries. Poor circulation is a common problem for diabetics so this can aid or prevent complications like diabetic neuropathy or diabetic retinopathy occurring.
Indian Kino Tree (Pterocarpus Marsupium) also known as Malabar Kino. The bark of this tree is soaked in water to leave an extract that is used in Ayurvedic medicine. The active ingredient in the Kino tree bark is epicatechin. In clinical tests involving mice, epicatechin was seen to increase the cAMP content in pancreatic islets cells which are responsible for producing insulin.
Bitter Melon (Momordica Charantia) is an edible fruit that is known for it's bitter taste. It is often used in South East Asian and Indian cooking or made into a tea. In Ayurvedic medicine it is often described as “plant insulin" as it contains a protein similar to that found in bovine insulin. The active ingredient is thought to be p-insulin or polypeptide-p. When extracted from bitter melon and injected into the body it performs like a slow acting animal insulin. It could be used as a source of insulin of Type 1 diabetics with further research into extraction of p-insulin.
It should be remembered that many of the herbs mentioned have undergone little or no clinical testing. Much of the evidence that these herbs work is either anecdotal or has been passed down from ancient medical traditions such as Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine. If you decide to use these herbal remedies, particularly as a supplement. It is advised that you discuss your decision with your doctor and monitor your blood sugar levels closely until you a familiar with the type of effects that the supplement will have on you.
Learn more about herbs and other supplements for your diabetic diet plan at http://www.diabeticdietsplan.com . The site deals with diets and eating healthy foods, diabetic cooking and how to get diabetic supplies. Adrian Whittle writes on issues related to diabetes including common symptoms of diabetes and related complications like diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy.