An integrative approach to diabetes: herbs can help with your diabetes maintenance regimen.

AuthorCook, Leena Sikand


In the United States, diabetes is fast becoming an epidemic: one in 12 people are diagnosed with the disease (1). The epidemic is new, but the disease itself is ancient. It has been a medical problem since antiquity, with the earliest written record mentioned on Third Dynasty Egyptian papyrus by physician Hesy-Ra in 1552 B.C. (2).

The evolving integration of conventional medicine and alternative approaches to healing can provide innovative and effective solutions for diabetics. However, all treatments employed should be used under the close supervision of a qualified health professional. They'll need to know about any herbs, supplements or natural treatments you're already using, because some may interact with medications and result in hypoglycemia if not properly coordinated.

Listed below are some helpful herbs and plants to incorporate into your diet; most of them are already in your kitchen cabinet! Check them out, and talk to your doctor to learn if they're appropriate to add to your maintenance regimen.

Bitter Melon

Bitter melon (pictured above) is a green fruit used commonly in Indian cuisine that looks like a warty gourd. As the name suggests, it's bitter! The fruit has shown the ability to enhance cells' uptake of glucose, to promote insulin release, and to potentiate the effect of insulin. At least three different groups of constituents found in all parts of the fruit have clinically demonstrated hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) properties or other actions of potential benefit against diabetes mellitus. For diabetics, juice of three to four bitter melons (about one third of a cup) every day in the morning can be beneficial (3).


In a study conducted at the Human Nutrition Research Center in Behsville, Maryland, it was discovered that apple pie was able to boost the efficiency of insulin in type 2 diabetics. Further analysis revealed that cinnamon, a common ingredient in apple pie, was responsible. The most active ingredient in cinnamon is methylhydroxy chalcone polymer, which helps convert glucose to energy. A USDA clinical trial found that consuming about half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day for 40 days reduced blood levels of both glucose and triglycerides, a potentially artery-clogging fat, by about 25 percent in adults with type s diabetes (4).


Turmeric is a potential anti-diabetes and anti-obesity herb, according to new studies conducted at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center of Columbia...

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