This short article looks at plants known traditionally and contemporarily used to lower blood sugar levels and improve absorption of sugars in the body. The list of plants featured here is meant to be an introduction; I shall provide more information on plants, remedies and alternative treatments for a number of common ailments. You will also be provided with recipes and healthy homemade decoctions.
1. Barley (Hordeum Vulgari)
Research shows that the high content of beta-glucan soluble fiber found in barley helps to slow absorption of glucose in the blood stream. Barley, unlike many grains which contain fiber only in the outer bran layer (wheat, rice, etc.); contains fiber throughout the entire kernel. This make it a grain than can be prepared in various ways without fear of losing its nutrients. Barley contains fiber (soluble and insoluble), is cholesterol free, low in fat, contains vitamins B1 and B3, selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and copper. It is also high in ant-oxidants and phyto-nutrients.
2. Banaba (Lagerstroemia Speciosa )
Banaba is a variety of crepe myrtle that grows mostly in Malaysia, Philippines and India. It is promoted for its effects on blood sugar and as a weight loss compound. Data is still being put forward on the usefulness of this plant in managing blood sugar levels, but evidence thus far show that the corsolic acid and tannins present work to aid the absorption of excess glucose in the body.
3. Bitter Melon (Momordica Charantia)
This small vine growing, gourd like fruit, related to the cucumber enjoys a long history of use in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean as, among others, a treatment for diabetes. It is very bitter, but used also as a vegetable with some meat dishes. Tinctures and capsules are prepared from the dried fruit and used as an effective blood sugar controlling agent
4. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum/Cinnamomum Cassia)
Cinnamon has been used as a spice for more than 4000 years. Research done over a number of years provides evidence that cinnamon can lower and regulate blood sugars. It seem to have an insulin-like effect causing glucose to be stored in the form of glycogen. Although it does not stimulate the flow of insulin, it helps it to work more effectively. Usually available as an extract, but you can add it to your favourite meals and drinks daily.
5. Fenugreek (Trigonella Feonum-Greacum)
Diabetes has been treated for centuries with a preparation of fenugreek seeds soaked in water for centuries, in places such as India and Arab countries. Overall, clinical studies have produced positive results relating to fenugreek as an effect blood sugar controlling agent. Fenugreek is a bitter spice, but is one used in the make up of Eastern curry blends. It can be used on a daily basis without side effect.
6. Guava (Psidium Guajava)
Chinese use guava in the treatment of diabetes as a part of their traditional medicine. In Latina America and the Caribbean it is used traditionally as a treatment for diarrhea and high blood pressure. Recent studies compliment its blood controlling properties. Prepared as a tea, 10-12 young leaves 1 half ripe peeled fruit is boiled in 16oz. water for 5 minutes.
7. Gymnema (Gymnema Sylvestre)
Avid and thorough Indian research is working hard to quantify and validate the glucose balancing properties of gymnema. Their findings will further prove the effectiveness of gymnema as another natural plant to be used in the fight against the ever rising prevalence of diabetes.
8. Jambolan (Syzygium cumini)
Alkaloids found in jambolan have influences blood sugar levels. Jambolan effectively reduces fatty infiltration of the liver thus improving its function. Liver health is a major contributor to the maintenance of healthy glucose levels in the blood. This small fruit helps to control blood sugar by improving liver functions.
9. Neem (Melia Azadirachta)
Neem is consider an almost cure all tree. The leaves of the evergreen have been used by some Indian scientist to effectively lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Oral doses of neem leaf extract significantly reduce insulin requirements for non-insulin dependent diabetics.
10. Opuntia/Prickly Pear (Opuntia Phaeacantha)
Used to lower fats and cholesterol in the blood, this cactus is becoming increasing important as a natural herb in the fight against diabetes. It helps to decrease high levels of glucose in the blood.