If diabetes is known as the “silent killer,” high blood sugar levels are its number one sign. In diabetic individuals, blood sugar levels spike, and their bodies become desensitized to insulin. Depending on the severity, patients may require prescribed medicines for their entire lives. Besides being costly, most of these medicines have secondary effects that can harm other organs if used for a prolonged period.
That’s why the scientific community is always searching for alternative therapies and techniques to lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of diabetes. Clinical trials so far have reported different benefits of various herbal medicines in lowering blood sugar levels. Here’s a brief review:
Gymnema sylvestre (Gurmar). A potent herb with antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties. The literal meaning of Gymnema is “destroyer of sugar.” Health experts have acknowledged this herb as powerful in reducing blood sugar levels for centuries. In modern trials, when Gymnema Sylvestre was given to patients with diabetes, blood sugar levels were reduced, and insulin control improved. Some patients with type 2 diabetes discontinued their usual medical treatment or reduced dosage and kept treating their ailments only with the herb. This herb’s potent bioactive compounds are responsible for such benefits. There are no reported side effects in therapeutic doses of the herb. Gymnema is also known for improving cholesterol levels and reducing blood fat.
Momordica charantia. Also called “bitter melon,” it is effective in reducing high levels of blood sugar and improving health in diabetic patients. In some studies, bitter melon showed even better results than Tolbutamide. Tolbutamide is a first-generation potassium channel blocker that is used as an oral hypoglycemic medication for diabetes 2 treatment. Bitter melon also has fewer side effects than insulin. Momordica charantia improves blood sugar levels and works as a great long-term sugar controller.
· Pterocarpus marsupium. This herb is particularly effective in treating insulin-resistant diabetes, also called Type 2 diabetes. Two clinical trials – involving humans – have shown that this herb had a remarkable anti-diabetic effect. In one of the studies, 97 patients were given the herb extract over 3 months. Out of 97, 67 patients lowered their blood sugar levels. In the other study, 22 diabetes patients ingested a preparation made from the dried herb for seven days. All participants showed improvement in their diabetic control. Moreover, in both cases, study individuals experienced an improvement in their common diabetic symptoms.
Cinnamon. Although technically not an herb but a spice, the therapeutic effects of cinnamon on diabetic patients have gained attention recently. Cinnamon provides many health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar levels and serum glucose and decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. In recent animal studies, cinnamon improved insulin action by enhancing muscle glucose intake.
Fenugreek. This herb has also gained attention for its anti-diabetic properties. Research scientists from India’s National Institute of Nutrition found that fenugreek seeds help lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 1 diabetes. Fenugreek helps improve glucose tolerance in humans.