Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: January 6, 1999

My brother has diabetes. Are there any herbs that might help him stabilize his blood sugars?

Diabetes is a disorder of pancreatic insulin production that results in high blood sugar levels and the inability to effectively metabolize foods. There are 2 types of diabetes: Type I, insulin dependent, usually developed in childhood or youth, and Type II, non-insulin dependent, usually developed in adulthood. Diabetes can result in serious complications of the eyes, circulation and kidney. The patient must be under a doctor’s care.

In type I diabetes, the pancreatic cells that produce insulin are destroyed so cannot produce insulin to control the blood sugar. Daily insulin injections are necessary.

Type II is usually associated with obesity. The pancreas may not produce enough insulin, or the body cells do not use it effectively. A low fat diet and regular exercise that result in weight loss and lowering of blood sugar, are effective components of non-drug treatment. A nutritionist, herbalist or naturopath can help you put together a diet and vitamin supplements that can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Herbs that can help are:

Dandelion root supports the liver and pancreas.

Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis), Fenugreek, onions and garlic reduce blood sugar levels.

Echinacea increases immune resistance to help combat the complication of infections.

Hawthorn, Yarrow and Linden flowers to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation.

Bilberry strengthens the blood vessels, helping to protect the eyes from complications such as glaucoma.

James Duke in "The Green Pharmacy" (available at Richters) notes research that shows beans, peanuts, the root of marshmallow herb and black tea help to control blood sugar levels. He offers a recipe for "Insulinade": add a pinch or two of the herbs bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and turmeric (research shows these help the body use insulin more effectively) to a pot of black tea and steep for 10 minutes, then ice the tea.

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