Diabetes occurs when your body tissues do not respond to insulin or the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin for absorbing glucose from the bloodstream. Destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas that synthesize insulin causes type 1 diabetes. Insulin therapy is the only treatment for type 1 diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes that usually develops due to insulin resistance can be reversed with appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes and herbal therapies.
In traditional medicinal systems around the world, certain herbal remedies are recommended for normalizing the blood sugar level in people with diabetes. The effectiveness of herbal therapies in improving sensitivity to insulin and stimulating insulin production has been proved in laboratory studies and clinical trials.
Herbal Remedies for Diabetes
Momordica charantia, better known as bitter gourd or bitter melon, is an effective anti-diabetes herbal therapy. Recommended in the traditional medicines in India, China and other countries of Asia, the fruits, leaves and seeds of the bitter gourd plant are used for reducing the blood sugar level. The hypoglycemic property of bitter gourd is primarily attributed to the active component called charantin. It works by activating a protein that supports glucose uptake. Moreover, it contains lectin, which mimics insulin.
Fenugreek seeds contain a novel amino acid called 4-hydroxyleucine, which stimulates the pancreatic cells to produce insulin. In addition, fenugreek seeds slow down sugar absorption in the stomach, thereby preventing abnormal increase in the blood sugar level. According to studies, regular intake of 5 grams of fenugreek seeds help to reduce the sugar level in the blood.
The kernel, seed and pulp of the Indian gooseberry fruit contains anti-hyperglycemic compounds that help to lower the blood sugar level. This herbal remedy for diabetes works by stimulating insulin secretion and suppressing activities of liver and kidney enzymes that inactive insulin.
Allicin, the main active ingredient in garlic, which gives garlic its pungent odor, is an effective anti-hyperglycemic agent. Poor hepatic glucose metabolism is a common cause of type 2 diabetes. Allicin reduces the sugar level in the blood by improving hepatic glucose metabolism. Studies suggest that intake of garlic extract causes significant improvement in the hepatic glycogen level. Moreover, it also stimulates the pancreatic beta cells to increase insulin production.
The sulfur containing amino acid in onion is blessed with hypoglycemic property. Diabetics can take about 50 grams of onion juice daily to lower their blood glucose level and prevent abnormal activities of liver enzymes that metabolize insulin.
The gel or juice of aloe vera can be used for keep diabetes under control. The bitter compounds in aloe vera induce production and release of insulin. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory effect of aloe vera accelerates wound healing in diabetics.
Opuntia streptacantha is a cactus native to the desert of Mexico and Central America. In Native American folk medicine, it is used for reducing the blood sugar level. It works by reducing glucose absorption in the intestine.
In the traditional medicine systems of the East Asian countries, ginseng is used for decreasing the blood sugar level. Although the different varieties of ginseng are used in diabetes treatment, according to studies, the panax ginseng species are most effective for diabetes patients.