1 in 10 adults over the age of 20 have diabetes. One in four seniors aged more than 65 years suffer from diabetes while roughly 1.4 million new cases of this disease is diagnosed in the United States annually ( National Diabetes Statistic Report, 2017). A diet with plenty of herbs that work to decrease blood sugar levels is more advisable than getting dependent on diabetes medications.
In an era where prescription medicines are getting more expensive and even more controversial, people are turning to healthy and natural alternatives to medicine. Many herbs and spices naturally help to decrease blood sugar levels. Adaptogenic herbs such as Korean red ginseng are a boon to diabetics as they not only regulate blood glucose levels, but also have multiple benefits that improve the overall health.
When parts other than the leafy and green part of the herbs are used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food, they are referred to as spices.
Here are 11 herbs and spices that help decrease blood sugar levels:
For thousands of years, Korean red ginseng has been used in traditional chinese medicine for a variety of ailments. This folk remedy has become one the most sought after herbal supplements in the world as scientific studies proved that ginseng can create a sense of well-being, improve stamina and mental performance as well as aid in lowering blood glucose levels.
Researchers from Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea conducted a study which concluded that ginseng extract and specific ginsenosides have beneficial effects on glucose and lipid metabolism. They also noted that therapeutic uses of ginseng were recorded in the oldest comprehensive Materia Medica about 2000 years ago. The anti-diabetic potential of ginseng was found in another compendium of Materia Medica written by ShiZhen Li.
Ginseng contains ginsenosides that are beneficial for diabetes therapy. root extracts and components of this herb exhibites anti-hyperglycemic activities which not only reduced insulin resistance, but also increased insulin production.
Korean red ginseng can be taken in doses of 200 to 400mg daily for helping decrease blood sugar levels.
Garlic’s capabilities of regulating cholesterol levels are well documented. This in turn reduces incidences of heart disease which is a medical condition that affects eighty percent of diabetic patients.
A 2014 German study found that raw garlic reduces blood sugar levels in their study subjects. There was also a reduction in the risk of atherosclerosis, another common disease seen in diabetics. Garlic contains vitamin B6 and vitamin C, both of which are said to have roles in carbohydrate metabolism.
3. Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are a popular ingredient in Indian cooking. According to study published in the International Journal of Development Research, curry leaves have a phytochemical that lowers fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Curry leaves improve carbohydrate metabolism as well as liver and kidney functions.
Increased levels of oxidative stress damages tissues, leading to diseases like diabetes and arthritis. The antioxidants in curry leaves improve insulin function by boosting pancreatic cell production. A 2013 study confirmed that antioxidants in curry leaves contribute towards reduced risk of certain diseases including diabetes.
Turmeric is a popular Indian spice that imparts the bright yellow color in curry. Turmeric has innumerous health benefits including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The combination of these disease fighting properties help regulate blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Turmeric boosts immunity and helps prevent many infection which diabetics especially are vulnerable to. A 2014 study recorded that their “findings reveal an effective therapeutic effect of curcumin in autoimmune diabetes by its actions on key immune cells responsible for β cell death.”
Cloves are well known for their anti inflammatory benefits and are commonly used for toothache in the Eastern medicine practice. It’s a common additive in herbal toothpastes as it keeps the gums healthy.
Cloves have both antiseptic and germicidal properties. It has many antioxidants in the form of phenols, anthocyanins and quercetin. It’s analgesic and digestive properties are especially beneficial to diabetics. A 2012 Nigerian study investigated the inhibitory potentials of polyphenol-rich extracts from clove on key enzymes responsible for carbohydrate-hydrolysis. They concluded that cloves have a therapeutic effect on type 2 diabetes.
6. Gymnema Sylvestre
Gymnema Sylvestre is a powerful herb that improves glucose utilization at a cellular level and lowers blood glucose level. They help repair and regenerate pancreatic beta cells which secrete insulin.
Gymnema Sylvestre is helpful for diabetics (type 1 and 2) as it also prevents the liver from releasing more glucose into the circulatory system. Gymnema sylvestre has many different compounds that workharmoniously to improve the symptoms of diabetes mellitus. It has the therapeutic value to be used in drugs that provide a natural alternative to insulin injections for diabetic patients.
Rosemary is an aromatic herb that is commonly added to meats and soups. Rosemary helps lower blood glucose levels. It is a boon to diabetics as rosemary promotes weight loss as well.
A recent study examined the anti-diabetic effects of rosemary extract and its polyphenolic components.
Rosemary extract was found to show insulin-like effects in insulin target cells and to exert significant anti-diabetic effects in different study subjects.Rosemary extract as well as rosemary extract polyphenols exhibited protective properties against both hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia in study subjects with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Sprinkle some cinnamon a dessert or on a potpourri, the scent is just heavenly and relaxing. But cinnamon has a lot more to offer than just the lovely scent or the delicious flavor, it has plenty of health benefits too.
The medicinal use of cinnamon is common in countries like Egypt and India. It’s use is documented even in the bible. Cinnamon promotes weight loss and helps regulate blood sugar levels in the human body. A research noted that consumption of cinnamon-extracts in the study subjects lowered blood glucose, reduced food intake, and improved lipid parameters.
Multiples studies have found evidence that fenugreek seeds can help lower blood glucose levels. Fenugreek is high in soluble fibre. It slows down the digestion process and the carbohydrate absorption from the small intestine. This helps to avoid sharp spike ups in the blood sugar levels.
In a study on the efficacy of Fenugreek, prediabetic men and women aged 30–70 were given Fenugreek powder, 5 g twice a day before meals. The progression of type 2 diabetes mellitus was monitored every 3 months for the 3 year period of the study. They recorded that dietary supplementation of 10 g Fenugreek/day in prediabetes subjects decreased insulin resistance and was associated with lower conversion to diabetes with no adverse effects.
The easiest way to consume them are to soak the fenugreek seeds in water overnight and use them in the morning. They can be eaten directly or added to various recipes. Fenugreek powder can also be used in recipes.
Ginger can definitely add a spicy kick to any food whether savory or sweet. It has been used for centuries by many cultures to treat sore throats, nausea and motion sickness.
Many recent studies have found that ginger extracts have significant anti-hyperglycemic effect. It also lowers total serum cholesterol while increasing HDL-cholesterol levels. Acid reflux is a common health issue with diabetics. Ginger can soothe the digestive system and aid the digestion process.
Ginger is believed to reduce hepatic phosphorylase, an enzyme that breaks down glycogen. Since blood sugar rises with the breakdown of glycogen, reducing this enzyme proves beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes.
The common sage has gray green edible leaves and its flowers can range from blue, purple and white to pink in color. Sage has a proven track record in treating ailments ranging from gastrointestinal discomforts to mental disorders. Cooks often use this herb in many recipes because of its distinct flavor and aroma.
Many study suggested that sage may be useful as a food supplement in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus because of its effects on fasting glucose levels and metformin-like effects on liver cells.
Go easy on your sage consumption though as too much of sage in addition to diabetes medications might cause hypoglycemia, a condition where blood sugars go too low.
Most of these healthy herbs and spices can be easily added to your diet as they can be used in a variety of everyday dishes. Use more turmeric in your cooking. Add ginger and garlic paste in all gravy dishes. Sprinkle some cinnamon on your salads and eggs.
Crush some ginger and curry leaves to mix up with yogurt to make a healthy and refreshing drink. Though you can make tea with ginseng roots, they are easier to consume in the form of supplements. If you are new to taking Korean red ginseng supplements, it’s best to start at a lower dosage of 200mg and work up slowly towards a 400mg dosage over a course of three to four weeks. A combination of a healthy diet with these herbs and spices along with Korean red ginseng supplements will help you wean off diabetic medications and lead a much healthier lifestyle.