Diabetes is a medical disorder characterized by persistent variable high blood sugar levels, resulting from inadequate secretion of the hormone insulin, an inadequate response by the body's cells to insulin, or a combination of the two factors. The most common forms of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Since insulin is the principal hormone that regulates uptake of glucose into most cells from the blood, deficiency of insulin or its receptors plays a central role in all forms of the disease. Diabetes poses a severe risk to health. It may lead to cardiovascular diseases, chronic renal failure, retinal damage, nerve damage, erectile dysfunction, and gangrene. Since ancient times, various herbs are being used to treat diabetes. Scientific investigations have confirmed the effectiveness of these herbs. Some of the major diabetes herbs are:
Pterocarpus Marsupium, also known as Indian Kino, Malabar Kino, Pitasara, Venga, is a large deciduous tree, which commonly grows in western and southern parts of India and Sri Lanka. It has demonstrated ability to reduce the absorption of glucose from the gastrointestinal tract. It is also known to improve insulin and pro-insulin levels.
Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia)
Bitter melon, also known as balsam pear, bitter gourd, bitter cucumber, karela, and charantin, is cultivated widely in Asia, East Africa and South America. It has been extensively used as a folk medicine for treatment of diabetes. Several compounds contained in bitter melon are known to account for its ability to lower the levels of sugar in the blood.
Gymnema sylvestre, also known as Gurmar, Meshasringi and Cherukurinja, is popular as “sugar destroyer”. The leaves of the plant are dried and pounded together with coriander fruit, and then the juice is extracted to be given orally for remedying diabetes. In India, the herb is primarily being used to treat type II diabetes. It is also being found in over-the-counter weight loss products and blood sugar balancing formulas.
Onion & Garlic ( Allium Cepa & Allium Sativum)
Onion and garlic have long been used by herbal practitioners to treat diabetes. Experimental and clinical evidence suggests ample on the anti-diabetic properties of onion and garlic. Garlic has an additional benefit i.e. it has positive cardiovascular effects. It is known to lower lipid levels and inhibit platelet aggregation. Liberal use of onion is recommended for diabetic patients, while garlic is to be taken in moderate amounts.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
Fenugreek is a crop plant that is grown as a pot herb. The habitat range of the plant extends from eastern Mediterranean area to China. Fenugreek is used as both an herb and a spice (seed). Pre-clinical and clinical studies on the herb have indicated its anti-diabetic properties. The fiber-rich fraction of fenugreek seeds can help in lowering blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Blueberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus)
Blueberries are a natural remedy for regulating the blood sugar levels, whenever they are slightly elevated. Researches on blueberries have come up with impressive results. They contain an active ingredient with an extraordinary ability to get rid of excessive sugar in the blood. They also work as a good astringent and help to relieve inflammation of the kidney, bladder and prostate.
Asian ginseng is commonly used by the traditional practitioners of Chinese medicine, to treat diabetes. The herb has shown good results in enhancing the release of insulin from the pancreas and increasing the number of insulin receptors. The herb has a direct effect on lowering blood sugar levels. Asian ginseng also helps in elevating mood and improves psycho-physiological performance.
Ginkgo biloba has also been used in the traditional Chinese medicine practice for the treatment of diabetes. This herbal medicine, which is now found over around the world, is extracted from the fan-shaped leaves of the ancient ginkgo biloba tree. The extract may help in the prevention and treatment of early-stage diabetic neuropathy. It also improves the blood flow in the peripheral tissues of the nerves in the arms, legs, hands, and feet.