Nearly every family today has a diabetic and struggles with dietary concerns for the same. Medications galore and insulin rule the day’s culinary plans. However, in the last couple of years, traditional herbal medicine has regained foothold and is being utilized to keep diabetes under check. These herbal alternatives help in lowering blood sugar levels and avoiding associated complications. Some of these wonder herbs are mentioned below:
1. Cinnamon (Cinnamomun Zeynalicum) (Dalchini)
Cinnamon is extremely efficacious in reducing blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes as it stimulates insulin release from pancreas. Cinnamon is also known to decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels, thereby reducing the risk for cardiac illnesses. It is usually consumed in powdered form and can be easily sprinkled on your dishes, desserts or simply consumed with a teaspoonful of honey.
2. Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum) (Tulsi)
This plant is known since times immemorial for its medicinal properties. Tulsi causes significant reduction in fasting blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It strengthens the functioning of pancreatic cells and promotes insulin secretion. This plant is also known to fight various bacterial as well as viral infections and to stimulate the immune system.
3. Gurmar (Gymnemma sylvestre) (Meshashringi)
This is a shrub known as the destroyer of sugar because it is effective in decreasing sugar levels in diabetics, weight loss, and suppressing appetite. Gymnemma increases the blood insulin level, lowers the absorption of glucose from the intestine, and helps in the growth and regeneration of pancreatic cells. Gymnemma extract can be taken in powder, tincture, or capsule form.
4. Onion (Allium Cepa) (Kanda/Pyaaz)
Onions help control glucose and cholesterol levels in blood and tissues, especially after meals. They are also rich in antioxidants. Onion can be easily consumed raw, as a part of your salads, dishes or soups. Onions are powerful remedies to battle the common cold as well.
5. Garlic (Allium Sativum) (Lasun)
Garlic is a herb containing allicin, the compound responsible for decreasing sugar levels, particularly fasting blood glucose levels by acting on the liver and pancreas. Garlic also tapers blood cholesterol levels. It can be very easily added to your meals as whole pods, crushed or as a paste.
6. Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolia)
Ginseng is a traditional herb that contains ginsenosides and gentonin, which reduce fasting glucose levels. Ginseng is also used in cases of appetite loss, weakness, and digestive problems. Ginseng is generally taken as a supplement. The common energy drink Red Bull contains ginseng for its stimulatory properties.
7. Fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum Graecum) (Methi)
Fenugreek seeds are known to slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, thus improving glucose tolerance and lowering blood sugar levels and the symptoms associated with diabetes. Fenugreek also helps in reducing blood cholesterol levels and triglycerides. It can be consumed in the powdered form or as whole seeds.
8. Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) (Adrak)
Ginger is a common spice used in all Indian cooking. Its active agent gingerol helps muscle cells utilize glucose without the need of insulin, and thus, helps in maintaining the glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. It is consumed either fresh, dried, powdered, or in the form of juice.
9. Aloe Vera (Barbadensis Miller)
Aloe vera is known to be a multi-purpose plant. The bitter property of aloe vera triggers the beta cells of pancreas to synthesize and release insulin, thereby bringing down the sugar levels. Aloe gum increases glucose tolerance. Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties, and therefore, helps in wound healing. Aloe vera can be taken in the form of juice.
10. Bitter Melon/Bitter Gourd (Momordica Charantia) (Karela)
Bitter gourd has a remarkable action of promoting the secretion of insulin and glucose metabolism and decreasing appetite. It is an excellent anti-diabetic agent for type 2 diabetes. The whole pod, seeds, fruit pulp, or leaves can be consumed.
Precaution: Note that these should not be replaced for your prescribed medication unless advised by your physician.
Dosage: It is important that you consult your physician regarding the dosage of the above mentioned remedies as they may drastically reduce your sugar levels, particularly if you are already taking hypoglycaemic drugs.