Diabetes, a life style illness is today rated as being the most common of modern day illnesses. Apart from medication, what this disease requires is a good dose of personal discipline so that it can be effectively regulated without affecting one’s normal lifestyle. Some natural herbs have immense potential and can effectively help in managing this disease. Well-known among them are garlic, cinnamon, fenugreek and a few capers. However, it is wise for any diabetic to remember that herbs will not cure the disease but will actually act effectively by alleviating insulin resistance. Some of them help by increasing the production of insulin. Here is how some of them can be beneficial for health and diabetes control.
A gram of cinnamon can significantly bring down levels of blood sugar by about 30 %. Cinnamon acts on those enzymes that are known to increase insulin receptor sensitivity and can also inhibit those that counteract it. It also has considerable potential in lowering abnormally high levels of lipids in diabetics. Cinnamon can prevent insulin resistance and also help with weight loss. Its immense healing properties when combined with honey are well known.
Garlic is a natural blood thinner and can slow down production of the free radicals because of its antioxidant properties. Liquid garlic has the ability to prevent the severe future damages to your kidneys, blood vessels, skin and eyes that can happen because of diabetes. This is because it can slow down the process of glycation that occurs from high sugar levels.
Fenugreek though known for its bitter taste, can substantially bring down glucose levels by regulating glucose metabolism and can act just like cinnamon. Apart from this, its high fiber content proves to be effective in bringing down the glycemic index of a meal. Fenugreek contains an amino acid called 4-hydroxyisoileucine, which has the property to stimulate insulin production and is found to be beneficial for type II diabetics. In theoretical terms 4-hydroxyisoleucine helps to lower blood sugar. The high content of fiber in fenugreek and the presence of pectin, a complex carbohydrate that digests very slowly, can also help to bring down sugar in the blood. Though diabetics may prefer to avoid fenugreek because of its bitter taste, its immense value in regulating diabetes cannot be underestimated. Fenugreek is used a lot in Indian cooking. In fact, many Indians soak a tablespoon of fenugreek overnight, and consume this first thing in the morning, as they believe that it can help control diabetes and also relieve pain caused by arthritic joints. Fenugreek leaves are cooked with other vegetables and make interesting dishes at the Indian table.
Coriander and Ginger
Both these condiments can increase sensitivity to insulin. Coriander stimulates insulin production. Coriander is also called cilantro. Volatile oils found in its leaves contain an anti-microbial, antibacterial compound, which could be a natural and safe means of fighting Salmonella. Coriander is considered to be an herb as well as a spice, as its leaves and seeds are both used as condiments and used generously in Indian cooking. Split seeds of coriander are used as a mouth freshener in India and generally taken after a meal.
Ginger has blood-thinning properties and is anti-viral. It is also known to reduce vomiting, nausea and flatulence. It has anti-spasmodic properties that can relieve menstrual crams. Ginger is believed to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and also aid in lowering blood pressure. However, more studies are needed in this direction
People suffering from type II diabetes can take this as a gel either alone or combined with a hypoglycemic medicine, to lower blood sugar. Aloe contains vitamins, trace elements and the right minerals that can help to control blood sugar levels.
Many diabetics often complain about tingling sensations or numbness in their extremities. Cayenne is yet another natural herb that can help to alleviate this particular symptom. Topical creams that contains cayenne can be beneficial for such symptoms, but at least four applications are required for it to be effective! However, you are advised to use this under a doctor’s supervision.
Isabgul or Psyllium
Isabgul or Psyllium has cholesterol and glucose lowering properties. Its high fiber content makes it a good bowel cleanser as it can alleviate constipation. It can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Flax seeds and Fenugreek
Flax seeds contain anti-oxidants and have high dietary fiber that can help diabetics. When used together with Fenugreek they can help control respiratory infections and lower LDL cholesterol levels. Dry roast 100 grams of flax seeds with a generous tablespoon of fenugreek till the seeds begin to splutter just a bit. Cool, dry grind and store. Have a teaspoon of this with water, first thing in the morning if you are prone to respiratory infections and also wish to lower cholesterol.
There are also some natural herbs that are rich in antioxidants and may prove to be beneficial in preventing complications that arise from diabetes. They help by reducing oxidation of fats. Many natural herbs taken for treatment of diabetes are also available as supplements.
It is wise to remember that many natural herbs are helpful in treating diseases like diabetes and this can lead to confusion about choice. Your family physician would be the best person to guide you about using them. Since he is also aware of the medicines you are taking, he would most likely know which herbs would combine well your medication. He will also suggest monitoring sugar levels when you are taking the herbs along with medicines. And remember what is effective for your friend may not be as equally effective for you. So consult before you consume!