3 Herbs to Help Control Blood Sugar Naturally
Diabetes is almost completely preventable and reversible. Recent studies on various natural remedies provide hope. Here are three to consider.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
More than 30 million people,or almost 10 percent of people living in the United States, have diabetes. About 24 percent of people with diabetes are undiagnosed. The prevalence of prediabetes is also on the rise, estimated to affect 33.9 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older, based on their fasting glucose or A1C level. Those with prediabetes have above-normal levels that are just below the defined threshold of diabetes. On top of that, nearly half (48.3 percent) of adults 65 years or older have prediabetes. Without appropriate intervention, people with prediabetes are very likely to become type 2 diabetics within a decade.
Taken together, that’s about half of American adults with unhealthy blood sugar levels. This disorder of high blood sugar is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, and people with diabetes typically have medical costs that are approximately 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is dangerous. It often leads to kidney disease, blindness, leg and foot amputations, nerve damage, and even death. It is, however, an almost completely preventable and reversible condition. With diet and lifestyle changes, plus some selected natural remedies, you can greatly improve your chances of avoiding or reversing it.
3 Herbs to Help Control Blood Sugar
The body breaks carbs down into glucose, and then insulin moves the sugars into cells. Faced with an excess of dietary carbs or problems with insulin function, this process fails, and blood glucose levels rise. The American Diabetes Association recommends controlling carb intake by counting carbs or using a food exchange system. Planning meals appropriately will likely further improve blood sugar control. Many recent studies also show that a diet with lowered carb intake helps reduce blood sugar levels and extends mortality.
Keep in mind that when using any remedy that affects blood sugar, it is a very smart idea to monitor glucose in the blood to assess progress.
1. Gymnema sylvestre – Gurmar
Gymnema sylvestre, known as gurmar, or killer of sweet, is an especially effective Ayurvedic herb from India. When chewed, its leaves block sweet taste on the tongue, reducing the appeal of sugary foods. In use for centuries in India, it is now being recognized by modern science. Its benefits extend to type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and it significantly improves cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well. It certainly could be the backbone of a natural diabetes program. It is unlikely that gurmar heals the underlying reasons for high blood glucose, but taken daily it will usually reduce blood sugar levels.
Several studies have accumulated to support the overall benefit of gurmar. One recent scientific paper said, “G. sylvestre has good prospects in the treatment of diabetes as it shows positive effects on blood sugar homeostasis, controls sugar cravings, and promotes regeneration of pancreas. The herbal extract is used in dietary supplements since it reduces body weight, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and holds great prospects in dietary as well as pharmacological applications.” Another paper from 2017 stated that gurmar shows remarkable hypoglycemic properties and forms the platform of diabetes therapeutics.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial from 2017 evaluated the effect of G. sylvestre administration on metabolic syndrome (MetS), insulin secretion, and insulin sensitivity. A group of 24 patients (without pharmacological treatment), 30–60 years old, with diagnosis of MetS, took 600 mg of gurmar extract per day or a placebo for 12 weeks. The herb extract decreased body weight, BMI, and VLDL levels.
Use up to 10 grams per day of dry powder in a capsule or 1,000 milligrams of Gymnema sylvestre extract (leaf) standardized to 25 percent gymnemic acid. Monitor your blood glucose as you adjust the dose so as to not lower blood sugar excessively.
Fenugreek, a small legume, is an effective blood sugar-lowering herb. Since fenugreek actually tastes good, it may be more practical for people to use on a daily basis. One study used fenugreek seed baked into flat bread, which proved effective.
In one open study of 60 type 2 diabetics, 25 grams per day of fenugreek led to important improvements in overall blood sugar control, blood sugar elevations after a meal, and cholesterol levels. A different open study showed results with only 15 grams of fenugreek daily. In a clinical trial study, 24 type 2 diabetic patients took 10 grams/day of powdered fenugreek seeds (soaked in hot water) for eight weeks. The water-soaked fenugreek improved many aspects of diabetes.
It is not clear whether the active principle in fenugreek lies in the highly soluble fiber content, most notably galactomannans, or in another unknown compound. Fenugreek is effective in both types of diabetes, is inexpensive, well tolerated, and, at 28 percent protein content, a favorable food source. Diabetics often experience cardiovascular symptoms. Death from cardiovascular disease is 60 to 70 percent in diabetics, versus 20 to 25 percent in nondiabetics. Legumes are beneficial at least in part because they contain a water-soluble, gel-forming fiber which has been shown to enhance diabetic control.
Evidence supports the role of a novel compound found in miniscule quantities in fenugreek. Not found in any mammal tissue, the peculiar free amino acid, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, increases insulin production. Studies in rats and dogs indicate that the effect is at least in part from a direct pancreatic B cell stimulation.
Use up to 15 grams of ground fenugreek seed as powder, capsules, or a condiment.
Speaking of soluble fiber, aloe, packed with this beneficial constituent, has been shown to benefit blood sugar. One study involved Aloe vera leaf pulp extract, compared to a common diabetes drug. Aloe extract significantly decreased serum glucose and significantly increased serum insulin levels as compared to controls, more effectively than the drug. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston stated that aloe preparations offer an attractive adjunctive strategy for impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance in conditions such as prediabetes/metabolic syndrome. Another investigation found that aloe, in people with prediabetes or early untreated diabetes, reduces body weight, body fat mass, and insulin resistance. In a 2017 study in 30 patients, a formula containing aloe and a few other constituents (fenugreek, garlic, etc.) was found safe and effective in lowering the levels of blood glucose and serum lipids in patients with advanced type 2 diabetes.
Studies suggests aloe reduces bodyweight, body fat mass, and insulin resistance.
Use up to 2 ounces per day of aloe gel.
Supplements for Blood Sugar Control
These products are sold in Vitamin Shoppe stores or on Vitaminshoppe.com