There are many lifestyle changes, supplements and herbs for diabetes that can help diabetics live a better life. Diabetes in the US has doubled in the last ten years and is a growing problem. There are over 23 million people, 7.8% of the population, who are diabetic in the US according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, clearly a warning sign that something needs to change. Most herbs that are thought to help diabetics are ones that lower blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and stabilize blood sugar levels or act as antioxidants.
Bitter melon is thought to increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Bitter melon is also thought to improve the immune system. Bitter melon is not recommended for pregnant women and side effects of bitter melon include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain or headache. A study done in the Philippines revealed that a 100 milligram per kilo dose per day is comparable to 2.5 milligrams of the anti-diabetes drug Glibenclamide taken twice per day.
It is believed that magnesium may assist pre-diabetics to avoid or delay the onset of diabetes. “Eating foods rich in magnesium such as whole grains, nuts, and leafy green vegetables may prove to be a cost-effective approach to reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes…”, according to JAMA. Some think magnesium supplements may also improve insulin sensitivity. The RDA, Recommended Daily Allowance, of magnesium is 6mg. Most Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diet.
Alpha Lipoic Acid may be used to control blood sugar as it is a potent antioxidant. High doses of ALA can lead to fatigue, insomnia, and overexcitement, so take care not to take too much. Many sources recommend not taking more than 50 mg a day unless under the care of a physician.
Other supplements and herbs for diabetes include chromium picolinate which is supposed to improve the ability of insulin to lower blood sugar, spirulina which is supposed to help stabilize blood sugar, and garlic which is believed to boost immunity and reduce blood sugar levels, and improve circulation. Some diabetics may have unknown food allergies that cause them to have weight problems. It makes sense to have a food allergy test, including corn which is ubiquitous in processed food in America, and is difficult to pinpoint as a result. Diabetics should also exercise regularly, as it also facilitates blood sugar stabilization.
Nearly every health food store and many supermarkets carry supplements and herbs for diabetes. It is difficult to tell which ones work or to know which ones are safe. There is some information on herbs for diabetes, but most herbs and supplements have not been tested enough to say they can replace current medical approaches. Eating right and exercising are still very important to maintain health, especially for diabetics. “Scientists have identified specific genes that make people more likely to develop insulin resistance and diabetes. Excess weight and lack of physical activity also contribute to insulin resistance” (Source: NIH). Herbs and supplements can be helpful to many diabetics, but be sure to discuss your any herbs or supplements you are taking with your doctor.