This post was written by Margaret Ojeniyi and edited by Lani Sodunke.
For people living with health conditions that affect blood sugar, such as diabetes, and hypertension, your major goal is mostly targeted at maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Factors like stress, genetics, and body weight have a role to play in maintaining blood sugar. However, following a healthy diet, coupled with natural supplements can make a significant difference in regulating blood sugar levels.
Using herbs and supplements alone cannot cure diabetes and other related diseases, combining them with conventional treatment would provide relief and reduce the risk of potential complications. Since there is no quick fix to regulating blood sugar levels, below are 16 remedies that can help you successfully lower your blood sugar levels and keep it within the normal range.
1. Fenugreek (ERU in Yoruba)
Fenugreek seed, also known as Methi, is an Indian herb that aids metabolism. It lowers cholesterol and triglyceride level. Fenugreek is excellent for the digestion of carbohydrates and sugar.
If you have borderline diabetes, this seed is great for preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. It also comes in the form of a capsule as a supplement good for lowering blood sugar levels and stimulating insulin release. You can add fenugreek as an herb in your cooking or take it with warm water.
Garlic, also known as Allium Sativum, is an antioxidant used in the treatment of various diseases, including diabetes. Although its effect is minimal, garlic can lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels. It also protects against heart attack due to its anti-clotting properties. If you are sensitive to garlic, you might experience heartburn and flatulence.
3. Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant usually found in foods like potatoes, spinach, and broccoli. ALA supplements can help manage diabetic neuropathy and damage done to the nerves by diabetes. It also breaks down carbohydrates to make energy while reducing diabetic symptoms like tingling and prickling feet.
Before using ALA supplements, ensure you seek proper medical advice.
Okra is also called ladyfinger. It is a ‘super food’ for people with diabetes and cancer. Okra has positive control of blood sugar and is also a great source of dietary fiber. You can cut and soak okra pieces in water and then drink the juice to decrease your fasting blood sugar level.
5. Aloe Vera
Long-term use of aloe Vera decreases fasting blood sugar. Aloe Vera helps decrease lipids in people with abnormally high blood molecules, such as type 2 diabetes. It increases insulin levels and also reduces oxidative stress. This makes it a good supplement against diabetic kidney disease and anxiety.
Aloe Vera also has healing and soothing properties. It hastens the healing of injuries on the leg and ulcers that can result in diabetes complications. The aloe Vera juice improves glucose levels making it suitable for individuals with diabetes. You can take aloe Vera as a smoothie or as a supplement.
Though cinnamon has various immense effects, its benefit on diabetes is minimal. It is an antioxidant that serves as a natural remedy to improve insulin sensitivity and weight control. Cinnamon reduces the risk of heart disease, improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipids in the blood.
Cinnamon could also help reduce fasting blood sugar in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes since it has an insulin effect on the body. It also reduces blood sugar in the body by transporting protein that moves glucose out of the blood into cells.
You can sprinkle a handful of cinnamon powder in your food or soak pieces of it in water and drink.
7. Bitter Melon or Gourd
Bitter melon is a vegetable fruit also referred to as Kugua. It is used in making traditional medicine to treat illnesses like diabetes, asthma, and skin issues. Bitter gourd is made up of substances that act like insulin, making it good for lowering blood
It reduces blood sugar levels by suppressing appetite and acting on peripheral tissue due to the presence of lectin (the factor that causes hypoglycemic effects after eating bitter melon) in it. Bitter melon may also improve glucose tolerance and other health-related issues such as: colic, burns, painful menstruation, fever, chronic cough etc.
Bitter melon looks similar to cucumber and can also be taken in several forms. It can either be dried, fried, pickled or canned. Also, a concoction can be made out of it by boiling pieces of the melon in water.
Ginseng is the family name for varieties of short, fleshy root plants. As a potent herbal supplement used to enhance and restore wellbeing, it is commonly called a ‘cure-all’ plant. Ginseng is used in the treatment of diabetes because of its insulin effect on the pancreas.
Similarly, it improves insulin resistance and lowers blood sugar. Taking fermented red ginseng might be as effective as taking a placebo. It is used to stimulate energy in weak or tired people while serving as an anti-inflammatory to boost the immune system. It is also found to be promising in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Gymnema Sylvestre is a scrub found in Africa, India, and Australia. It is a medicinal plant that serves as a remedy various ailments, including diabetes. Gymnema is referred to as a sugar destroyer because of its effect on decreasing fasting blood sugar levels. It can make sweet food less appealing, thanks to the gymnemic acid.
For instance, if you eat something sweet after taking Gymnema, your sugar receptor would be blocked, making the food less sweet. Additionally, Gymnema is perfect for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes because it can reduce fat and lower blood sugar levels.
Gymnema enhances insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity, and cell regeneration and these helps lower blood glucose levels. Other health benefits of Gymnema includes:
- Enhancing weight loss.
- Reducing the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol and triglyceride level.
- Reduces inflammation.
Ginger is a commonly used spice or herbal treatment for various ailments that involve inflammatory issues. It helps reduce insulin resistance, especially in people that have type 2 diabetes.
Chromium is an essential body mineral that aids fat metabolism. Each time urine is passed out, chromium goes with it; and since people with diabetes experience frequent urination, they tend to have chromium deficiency. Thus, taking chromium supplements may help reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar level. However, people with kidney disease should be careful with this supplement.
12. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Milk thistle is also referred to as holy thistle or lady thistle. Milk thistle reduces glycated hemoglobin, as well as fasting blood sugar levels. It also stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
Though its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property prevents people with type 2 diabetes from kidney and heart attack; you might experience nausea, bloating, and diarrhea as the side effect of using milk thistle.
13. Bitter Leaf
Bitter leaf is mostly used to treat stomach issues due to its chemical composition. Once you squeeze out the juice and drink it or add it to your vegetable soup, it can effectively lower blood sugar levels.
Zinc is great for preventing the onset or progress of diabetes because it is an inducer of metallothionein. Taking zinc supplements would help maintain a balanced state. It has an insulin effect on cells, meaning it uses glucose to maintain normal cellular function.
Essential oil made from lemongrass can act as a pain and inflammation reliever. Lemongrass helps to reduce blood sugar level and lipids in people with type 2 diabetes.
16. Coccinia Indica (ivy gourd)
Ivy groud is a tropical plant that has been discovered to lower blood glucose effectively after meals. It is an effective natural remedy used to treat various health conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure.
Before using any natural remedies and supplements for diabetes, you have to bear in mind that some of them are not scientifically proven to cure your illness, but suppress or prevent it.
If you are skeptical about any herb, you can start with a small dosage until you are satisfied with the effects. However, to get the faster results, you should use your medication prescribed by your doctor along with these natural therapies.
Ensure to consult your healthcare professional before taking any supplement or herb with your medication to avoid complications.