Natural remedies for diabetes



Natural remedies for diabetes



If you’re among the those living with diabetes, you probably know that eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise are important ways to keep the condition under control. While medication is always an option to balance your blood sugar, there are natural options as well, from lifestyle changes to herbal remedies. Here are some home remedies for diabetes you might want to try—under your healthcare provider’s supervision, of course.


Natural remedies for diabetes


Type 2 diabetes is caused by resistance to a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas, says Minisha Sood, MD, a board-certified endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.  The primary function of insulin is to lower blood glucose levels and keep them in a normal range. But when the body becomes insensitive to insulin, levels rise, and the body over-produces the hormone to compensate. 

“At some point, the body is no longer able to keep up with that increased demand for insulin, and insulin is no longer effective at controlling blood glucose levels, which then begins to rise,” Dr. Sood explains. “That’s when we see the onset of Type 2 diabetes,” says Dr. Sood. Here, we take a look at some natural, home remedies that may improve Type 2 diabetes.


1. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)


One of the complications of diabetes is neuropathy, or nerve damage, caused by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) and high triglycerides that interfere with blood flow. Research indicates that alpha-lipoic acid is effective for symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, which causes pain, tingling, and numbness of the legs, arms, feet, and hands. 

It may also help to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. The best way to incorporate alpha-lipoic acid into your diabetes care is to work with your provider; because of its potential blood sugar-reducing effects, it should be used carefully by those taking medications to control their blood sugar.


2. Aloe vera


A  study found that patients with prediabetes who took aloe vera capsules twice a day for eight weeks experienced reduced fasting glucose and increased insulin sensitivity, indicating that the plant may be helpful for regulating blood glucose levels. And a 2016 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics found that most people tolerated aloe vera well with minimal side effects. 

But according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there’s not enough data to determine whether aloe vera is an effective diabetes treatment—more research is needed. 


3. Apple cider vinegar


Apple cider vinegar, which contains acetic acid, may be helpful in the regulation of blood sugar levels,

A study suggests that ACV helps to move glucose out of the bloodstream at a rate that is beneficial for lowering and stabilizing blood sugar levels, which in turn can help improve insulin sensitivity,  Another small study among adults with Type 2 diabetes found that taking two tablespoons of ACV at bedtime reduced blood glucose levels the following morning. Additionally, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of over 300 patients found that ACV has a beneficial effect on fasting glucose levels. While ACV is generally safe to consume, taking it along with drugs that lower your blood sugar may cause it to drop too low.  


4. Jamun


Touted to be the miracle fruit for diabetes, jamun, or java plum, is a fruit that is widely available in India. One study found that among 50 diabetes patients who ingested 10 grams of jamun seed powder for 90 days experienced a 30% reduction in fasting blood glucose levels. A 2018 review published in the International Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine found that consuming jamun may be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels, but more research is needed. 


5. Berberine


Berberine may help improve blood glucose levels. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Mellitus found berberine to be an effective way to control blood glucose levels in individuals with prediabetes, more research is needed.

6. Bitter melon (bitter gourd)


Although it’s not an approved diabetes treatment, bitter melon, or momordica charantia, may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. One study found that ingesting 2000 mg of bitter melon each day for four weeks did have a hypoglycemic effect in patients with diabetes, but it was not as effective as the diabetes drug metformin. According to some reviews, further studies are needed. 


7. Cinnamon


Some studies showed that people with Type 2 diabetes who were given 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon daily for 40 days experienced a reduction in their blood glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels. The more cinnamon consumed, the greater the effect. 

But other studies showed no significant effect. For example, in another small study, 35 people with Type 2 diabetes were given cinnamon for 60 days. They showed no reduction in blood glucose compared with the control group. Still, according to the Mayo Clinic,  there’s a possibility that the spice may help the body use insulin more effectively, and it’s relatively safe, so it may be worth trying. 


8. Chromium


The essential mineral chromium may help people with diabetes lower their blood sugar levels.  A  study found that individuals who supplemented with chromium were at a decreased risk of developing diabetes due to improved HbA1c values. According to the CDC, values below 5.7% are normal, values from 5.7% to 6.4% are indicative of prediabetes, and values of 6.5% or greater indicate diabetes. 

Another study investigating chromium paired with biotin showed that individuals taking the combination had improved fasting glucose and HbA1c levels compared with the group taking a placebo. More research is needed to determine how beneficial chromium may be for diabetes, but it’s safe for most individuals to take. 


9. Coffee


It’s possible that drinking coffee might be among Type 2 diabetes natural remedies, research suggests. According to a 2014 study published in Diabetologia, people who drank about a cup and a half of coffee per day for a four-year period had an 11% lower risk for Type 2 diabetes. But for people who already have diabetes, the results of coffee on blood sugar are variable (it may raise or lower it). If you’re considering using coffee to help control your blood sugar levels, it’s best to do so under the supervision of a healthcare provider.


10. Coenzyme Q10


A nutrient that’s vital to the human body, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) helps cells convert food into energy and may reduce blood sugar in people with diabetes. According to a 2016 literature review, CoQ10 reduced fasting blood glucose. In a recent meta-analysis of 40 randomized controlled trials, CoQ10 was found to enhance glycemic control in diabetes patients. To achieve these effects, taking 100-200 mg per day is suggested, although no official recommendations exist.


11. Fiber


According to the CDC, only half of adults in the United States get the recommended daily allowance of fiber. But fiber is helpful in the prevention and management of diabetes. That’s because it helps to control blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates that could cause blood sugar to spike, lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and maintain a healthy body weight by increasing satiety. 


12. Fenugreek


Supplementing with fenugreek seeds may help individuals with diabetes lower their blood sugar by decreasing the absorption of carbohydrates and increasing insulin production. In fact, one study assessing the impact of fenugreek seed in patients of Type 2 diabetes mellitus found that ingesting 10 grams per day works synergistically with diet, exercise, and oral hypoglycemic agents/insulin to lower fasting blood glucose and HbA1C levels. A 2015 randomized control study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders found evidence that fenugreek can delay the onset of diabetes in individuals with prediabetes by lowering blood glucose.


13. Garlic


Garlic is known to improve high blood pressure and lower cholesterol, and it may help lower blood sugar in diabetic patients. One small study showed that garlic was as effective as the diabetes drug metformin in reducing fasting blood sugar and HbA1c levels. A 2017 meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials was also promising, indicating that garlic may reduce blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol, but more research is needed to support these findings. 


14. Ginseng


The herb American ginseng (panax quinquefolius) is an adaptogen that contains ginsenosides, chemicals that appear to affect insulin levels and lower blood sugar. A 2019 research review suggests that American ginseng extract is effective and safe in the management of Type 2 diabetes. While evidence suggests the herb helps to decrease blood glucose, larger scale clinical trials are necessary to evaluate its long-term effects. 


15. Gymnema sylvestre


Gymnema sylvestre is an herb that has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in animal studies, possibly by stimulating insulin secretion. And it’s been used in the treatment of diabetes in ayurvedic medicine for 2000 years. But does it work? A systematic review published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture suggests that the herb has hypoglycemic properties, but further research is needed to establish this effect. 


16. Magnesium


Magnesium is important for glucose metabolism, and supplementing with the mineral may help the body process insulin more effectively. Research suggests that the magnesium can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. And a 2017 systematic review found evidence that magnesium supplementation helps reduce insulin resistance, helping people with diabetes better manage their blood sugar. 


17. Nopal (prickly pear cactus)


Preliminary evidence shows that nopal, or prickly pear cactus, may decrease blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. Although some research has been conducted into its benefits of nopal, studies are inconclusive. But nopal is high in fiber, which can help keep blood sugar under control. 


18 Neem Leaves


Neem leaves are loaded with glycosides, triterpenoids, antioxidants and flavonoids, which possess anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-diabetic properties.

Several studies have revealed that the anti-diabetic properties of Neem leaves aid insulin to increase the uptake of glucose into fat and muscle cells and, hence, helps in maintaining glucose levels in the body.

Ways to Consume Neem Leaves for Diabetes

You can consume Neem leaves depending upon your lifestyle and comfort. It is beneficial to have Neem leaves on an empty stomach early in the morning.

 Raw Neem Leaves : If you can tolerate the bitterness of Neem leaves, it is best to chew raw Neem leaves to reap their medicinal properties. Make sure to thoroughly clean them before consumption.

  Neem Leaves Water : Boil a few Neem leaves in water till the leaves have begun to appear soft and water gradually turns deep green in color. Strain and store this water in a container. Drink this extract at least twice a day.

 Neem Leaves Powder: Mix 1 teaspoon of Neem powder with water and consume half an hour before lunch and dinner.

Best Time To Consume Neem Leaves

Eat it on an empty stomach early in the morning or before meals, once or twice a day for effective control of diabetes and for weight loss.

Risks of Over Consumption of Neem Leaves

In some rare cases, overconsumption of Neem leaves may cause your blood glucose levels to go too low. Hence, it is always best to monitor your blood glucose levels.


19. Lady finger or okra


Lady finger or okra is beneficial for diabetes in many ways. It does not only taste good but is also a low glycemic food that maintains the blood sugar level, which is necessary for people with diabetes. Lady finger lowers the blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes as it helps the digestive system

20. Diet


Maintaining a healthy weight is a proven way to keep diabetes symptoms in control. “There’s not a specific diabetes diet per se, as long as it doesn’t exceed your daily caloric needs,” Dr. Sood says. Rather, a nutritional approach that balances the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) is ideal. Minimize your intake of processed foods and refined sugars, and balance healthy carbohydrates (like whole grains) with lean proteins and moderate amounts of healthy fats at meals. Many of the foods and drinks listed above are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties that are not only good for blood sugar control but also your general well-being.


21. Exercise


According to the American Diabetes Association, logging 150 minutes of physical activity each week can help to manage diabetes. Dr. Sood says that multiple types of movement will lower blood glucose levels. Incorporate regular cardiovascular exercise with strength training into your movement routine. Doing this helps to create a healthy muscle system that can process glucose in a much better way than in someone who’s sedentary.


22. Stress reduction


Consistently managing stress over time is a wonderful way to lower certain hormones that raise blood sugar, such as cortisol, growth hormones, and adrenaline, says Dr. Sood. When it comes to the best strategy for stress reduction, a person can choose whatever modality they feel serves them best. Some research-backed stress-reduction techniques for diabetes include alternative therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, guided imagery, and biofeedback.

Diabetes remedies that don’t work


Because there are plenty of diabetes products on the market, it can be difficult to determine what’s legit and what’s too good to be true. Even many natural remedies listed above, despite limited evidence, haven’t been scientifically proven to be effective. For example, some people believe that lemon water reduces blood sugar, but there is little evidence of this. That’s why it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any home remedy for diabetes control and before taking herbal supplements to lower blood sugar naturally.


When to see a healthcare provider for diabetes symptoms


Classic signs of significant blood glucose elevation include unexplained weight loss, increased urination (especially at night), a noticeable increase in appetite, and blurry vision, says Dr. Sood. Although these symptoms can be signs of other conditions. For example, increased urination can be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI) and unexplained weight loss could indicate thyroid issues or cancer, these symptoms are red flags that you should seek medical attention.


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