Q: What are some good herbs for diabetes?
Answer: All of the following info is based on research. See the references at the end of the article.
Typical Western (M.D.) Diabetes Treatments and Side Effects
Along with the usual lifestyle recommendations for Diabetes Type II (exercise, weight control, and diet therapy), MD’s prescribe glucose-lowering drugs and insulin injections. Glucose-lowering drugs can have adverse effects like severe hypoglycemia, lactic acidosis, idiosyncratic hepatocellular (liver cell) injury, permanent neurologic deficit, digestive discomfort, headache, dizziness, and death.
Herbs for Diabetes
There are some proven alternatives to glucose-lowering drugs. One hypoglycemic herb, Galega oficianalis, was integral to the development of Metformin. They may not all be potent enough to replace anti-diabetic drugs, but comprehensive Chinese herbal therapy may be. Many of the herbs were taken in combination with oral drug therapy, resulting in lowered glucose levels.
You should definitely consider herbs and drugs with the help and guidance of a physician or two – whatever kind of physician they are! (In California, acupuncturists are considered physicians)
Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic Herbs
Both Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine are systems of medicine. Each has its own herbs… for example, Ginseng and Dang Gui are Chinese Herbs. Prescriptions contain multiple herbs in specific proportions; each herb balances or enhances another. Western herbs, such as St. John’s Wort, are generally used one at a time just like western drugs. Thus, there is more risk of side effects.
Western Herbs for Diabetes Type II
* Bitter Melon Dried powder 3-15g daily OR Standardized capsules 100-200mg 3 times per day
* Alium Cepa (Onions) One 400mg capsule daily
* Allium Sativum (Garlic) 4g Fresh or 8mg essential oil
* Bilberry 80-160mg 3 times daily of 25% anthrocyanoside extract
* Aloe Vera 1 tbsp juice twice daily
* Salt Bush 3g per day
Ayurvedic Herbs from India for Diabetes Type II
* Fenugreek 15g powdered, soaked in water; 10-100g daily
* Gurmar (Gymnema Sylvestre) 400mg daily
* Pterocarpus Marsupium 2-4g daily
Chinese Herbs for Diabetes Type II
* Asian Ginseng (Panax) 1-3g of root or 200-600mg standardized extract See the article “Diabetes & Ginseng” (http://pulsemed.org/diabetesginseng.htm)for more information before taking Ginseng
* American Ginseng
* Green Tea (No specific dosage recommended)
* Quei Fu Di Huang Wan (formula) 26 mg/kg every 8 h, three times daily
* Rou Gui 50 mg/kg
* Tang Niao Kang (formula) (No dosage specified)
Many Chinese herbs have the proven ability to lower glucose levels. However, they should be prescribed according to pattern discrimination (diagnosis). Your Chinese medical physician will diagnose you and then prescribe a personalized herbal formula or patent medicine that contains the appropriate herbs.
Here is a list of these proven chinese diabetes herbs for your reference:
Li Zhi He
Yu Mi Xu
Di Gu Pi
Bai Zhu (atractylodes)
Gou Qi Zi
He Shou Wu (polygonum)
Huang Qi (astragalus)
Mai Men Dong
Ren Shen (panax ginseng)
Shan Zhu Yu
Shan Yao (diascorea)
Sheng Di (raw rehmannia)
Tian Hua Fen
Wu Bei Zi
Xian He Cao
Yin Yang Huo
Minerals for Diabetes Type II
* Chromium Picolinate 500mcg twice daily
* Vanadium 100mg per day
* Magnesium (No dosage recommended)
One study proved that it couldn’t just be mineral content in herbs that lowers glucose levels. Another suggested that alternative medicine practitioners should not change a patient’s insulin dosage. Not only is it illegal, but it’s dangerous, and has resulted in patient going into diabetic comas.
How to Take These Herbs
I would advise against combining the herbs listed above without professional advice. Please see an herbalist trained for years and certified by some licensing or professional body before taking any herbs. Herbs could interact with your medications, or with one another. Each of these three traditions has wisdom, experience, and research behind their
Marcus AO. Safety of drugs commonly used to treat hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes (the metabolic syndrome): part 1.
Diabetes Technol Ther. 2000 Spring;2(1):101-10. Review.
Harrigan RA, Nathan MS, Beattie P. Oral agents for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: pharmacology, toxicity, and treatment.
Ann Emerg Med. 2001 Jul;38(1):68-78. Review.
Cheng JT, Liu IM, Chi TC, Su HC, Chang CG. Metformin-like effects of Quei Fu Di Huang Wan, a Chinese herbal mixture, on streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat. Horm Metab Res. 2001 Dec;33(12):727-32.
Qi C, Zhang G, Wan S, Chu B, Jiang A. [A study on the action of tang niao kang decoction] Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1997 Jun;22(6):370-1, back inside cover. Chinese.
Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Koo VY, Francis T, Beljan-Zdravkovic U, Xu Z, Vidgen E. Related Articles American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L) reduces postprandial glycemia in nondiabetic subjects and subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Arch Intern Med. 2000 Apr 10;160(7):1009-13.
Kar A, Choudhary BK, Bandyopadhyay NG. Related Articles
Preliminary studies on the inorganic constituents of some indigenous hypoglycaemic herbs on oral glucose tolerance test. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Feb;64(2):179-84.
Waltner-Law ME, Wang XL, Law BK, Hall RK, Nawano M, Granner DK. Epigallocatechin gallate, a constituent of green tea, represses hepatic glucose production. J Biol Chem. 2002 Jul 12 [epub ahead of print]
Sheweita SA, Newairy AA, Mansour HA, Yousef MI. Effect of some hypoglycemic herbs on the activity of phase I and II drug-metabolizing enzymes in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Toxicology. 2002 May 24;174(2):131-9.
Takahashi N, Kawada T, Goto T, Yamamoto T, Taimatsu A, Matsui N, Kimura K, Saito M, Hosokawa M, Miyashita K, Fushiki T. Dual action of isoprenols from herbal medicines on both PPARgamma and PPARalpha in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and HepG2 hepatocytes. FEBS Lett. 2002 Mar 13;514(2-3):315-22.
Nishizawa M, Sutherland WH, Nukada H. Gosha-jinki-gan (herbal medicine) in streptozocin-induced diabetic neuropathy. J Neurol Sci. 1995 Oct;132(2):177-81.
Liang XC, Guo SS, Qian ZF, Hong G, Tao LH, Wang Y, Zhu SY. Effects of Chinese medicinal herbs on hemorheology in diabetics. Proc Chin Acad Med Sci Peking Union Med Coll. 1989;4(3):135-8.
Dey L, Attele AS, Yuan CS. Alternative therapies for type 2 diabetes.
Altern Med Rev. 2002 Feb;7(1):45-58. Review.
Flaws B, Sionneau P. The Treatment of Modern Western Medical Diseases with Chinese Medicine: A Textbook and Clinical Manual. 2001. Blue Poppy Press.