May 23, 2017
Herbs and Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes - P2
This is a continuation of part 1.
Milk thistle - Milk thistle is an herb that has been used since ancient times for many different ailments and is considered a tonic for the liver. The most studied extract from milk thistle is called silymarin, which is a compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is these properties that may make milk thistle a great herb for people with diabetes.
A review notes that many of the studies on silymarin are promising, but the research is not strong enough to begin recommending the herb or extract alone for diabetes care.
Many people may still find that it is an important part of a care routine, especially since the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help protect against further damage caused by diabetes. Milk thistle is most often taken as a supplement.
Fenugreek - Fenugreek is another seed with the potential to lower blood sugar levels. The seeds contain fibers and chemicals that help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates like sugar. The seeds may also help delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
A recent study found that people with prediabetes were less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes while taking powdered fenugreek seed. This was caused by the seed increasing the levels of insulin in the body, which also reduced the glucose in the blood.
Researchers found that the seed helped to lower cholesterol levels in patients as well. Fenugreek can be cooked into certain dishes, added to warm water, or ground into a powder. It can also be added to a capsule to be swallowed as a supplement.
Gymnema - Gymnema is a relatively new herb on the Western market. In the plant's native home of India, its name means, "sugar destroyer." A recent review noted that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients given gymnema have shown signs of improvement.
In people with type 1 diabetes who were given the leaf extract over a period of 18 months, fasting blood sugar levels were lowered significantly when compared to a group that received only insulin.
Other tests using gymnema found that people with type 2 diabetes responded well to taking both the leaf and its extract over various periods of time. Using gymnema lowered blood glucose levels and increased insulin levels in the body of some patients. Using either the ground leaf or leaf extract may be beneficial for many people with diabetes.
Ginger - Ginger is another herb that science is just discovering more about. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine systems. Ginger is often used to help treat digestive and inflammatory issues. However, a recent review posted to shows that it may be helpful in treating diabetes symptoms as well.
In their review, researchers found that supplementing with ginger lowered blood glucose levels, but did not lower blood insulin levels. Because of this, they suggest that ginger may reduce insulin resistance in the body for type 2 diabetes.
It is important to note that the researchers were uncertain as to how ginger does this. More research is being called for to make the claims more certain. Ginger is often added to food raw or as a powdered herb, brewed into tea, or added to capsules as an oral supplement.
Important considerations for people with diabetes - It is always best to work with a healthcare professional before taking any new herb or supplement. Doctors usually have patients start out on a lower dose and gradually increase it until a comfortable dose is found.
Some herbs can interact with other medications that do the same job, such as blood thinners and high blood pressure medications. It is very important to be aware of any interactions before starting a new supplement.
It is also important for people to get herbs from a high-quality source. Herbs are not monitored by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products may contain different herbs and fillers, recommend an incorrect dose, or even are contaminated with pesticides.
Herbs and supplements should be seen as a complementary treatment option, and should not replace medications. Working closely with a knowledgeable healthcare professional, herbs can be a great addition to many care programs for diabetes.
End of part 2 of 2 parts.