How Herbs Influence your Blood Sugar



Chronic elevated blood sugar or blood glucose levels can place you in a pre-diabetic or diabetic state, also referred to as hyperglycemia. There are 2 basic types of diabetes. Type I diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes, as it is generally diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood. This is a condition where your body is unable to produce insulin. In this case, insulin hormone therapy is required to sustain a healthy and long life. Type II is the more common form of diabetes. This is a condition where the body has insulin resistance, causing your pancreas to produce extra insulin to overcompensate. With time, the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels stable or within a normal range.

Without proper control of diabetes, and maintaining normal blood sugar levels, long term damage can occur to the blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the other organs. People with both types of diabetes need to be mindful of diet, exercise, adequate rest, and stress reduction. In addition, type I diabetics need insulin therapy. Type II diabetics may require blood sugar lowering prescription medications. They may also consider trying supplements and herbs to help with keeping blood sugar levels within normal range. However, it is important to understand any interactions between Rx medications and supplements.

As with any health condition, always speak with your healthcare professional for advice on how best to manage your condition. Discuss with your doctor and pharmacist any potential interactions between medications, supplements, and herbs. Persons with type I diabetes need to know the risks of supplements and herbs as they relate to the potential for hypoglycemia while on insulin therapy. Hypoglycemia is when blood glucose levels are dangerously low.

If you want to manage your type 2 diabetes without prescription medicines, it is a good idea to research alternatives and lifestyle changes you will likely need to make. Are you curious about whether herbs might be helpful? Let’s review some of the herbs that may be either beneficial or detrimental to the management of diabetes:

With all of the advancements in and research related to alternative medicine, there is evidence that health conditions and diseases can be successfully treated with non-allopathic therapies. Pre-diabetic patients and those with type II diabetes may benefit from alternative therapies, such as herbal medicine. It is recommended that you work with both a medical professional and a knowledgeable and credentialed Alternative Medicine practitioner, preferably someone who has studied herbal therapies. Doctors of Oriental Medicine and some Naturopaths or Functional Medicine Doctors possess these skills.

Most herbs are not contraindicated for persons with diabetes. In fact, the research seems to point to herbs as being pretty safe and beneficial. That said, herbs can be just as powerful as pharmaceuticals. And, they can also come with side effects, just like prescription medicines. Dosing is important. Starting out low and slow is often the method that healthcare professionals prefer to take. Herbs are medicines in their rawest and purest forms. Most pharmaceutical drugs have their roots in plant compounds. Pharmacists these days spend years studying drugs and their interactions with other medicines, supplements, herbs, and foods. Do not feel shy about speaking with your pharmacist about herbal medicines. There is a reason why you are now asked to write down any Rx, supplements, and herbs you are taking every time you visit your doctor. Does the question, “Has anything changed since the last time I saw you” ring a bell?

The truth is that we are all predisposed to diabetes. Why? Our Standard American Diet (SAD) is not healthy and we have an obesity epidemic. We consume way too many calories from sugar and foods that convert to sugar. These foods include soft drinks, processed foods, candy, refined grain products like white bread and pasta, some starchy fruits, and some legumes. If you don’t want type II diabetes, you may need to cut back on the foods that spike your blood glucose levels. Include fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and lean protein as much as possible. Organic and pasture raised is preferable.

Exercise is also important. Walking 30 minutes every day can make a big impact on your quality of life. Lifting light weights 15 minutes every day is great for toning muscles, including your heart. Yes, your heart is a muscle (and an organ). Getting adequate sleep is just as important, as is stress reduction. Herbal supplementation alone will not reverse type II diabetes. But, it may help.