Diabetes in the U.S. has more than doubled since the 1980s. Chinese and herbal medicine have addressed diabetes for 2500 years and are especially effective for Type 2 and prevention.
Caution: the pancreas of a Type 1 diabetic does not produce insulin. Therefore, insulin injections are required to sustain life. A formal practice like traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) may help, but it cannot replace insulin. There is no cure yet for Type 1 diabetes.
Treatment of Type 2, pre-diabetes and insulin resistance with TCM or other herbal principles can be very successful. TCM is based on identifying imbalances and restoring balances in the bodily systems. Rarely used alone, studies show that herbs are quite effective when combined with additional and preventive lifestyle changes.
What Herbs Treat Diabetes?
Bitter melon (momordica charantia) is an Asian vegetable, proven to lower blood sugar in diabetics. A root herb for the “thirsting and wasting disease”, Tian Hua Fen (trichosanthis root) drains heat and generates fluid. Gymnema Sylvestre is a Chinese herb that curbs cravings and reduces weight. Hu Lu Ba (Fenugreek) is another Chinese herb shown to help lower blood sugar.
Medical research in China indicates that Ophiopogon and Mai Men Dong may fuel human pancreas cell regeneration - the cells that manufacture insulin. Such cell regeneration could lead to reversing “adult onset” or Type 2 diabetes.
American ginseng (Yi Shang Shen) is also used to improve kidney function in diabetics, and many herbal combinations treat the complications of diabetes.
No “cure” yet exists for the disease. You can prevent or control Type 2 with good dietary and lifestyle habits. If you already have diabetes you can control it with treatment, and even live without symptoms and avoid the complications if you adopt a diet and lifestyle that regulates blood sugar.
Herbal remedies are known to help including:
• Aloe juice aids digestion, stimulates insulin production and prevents high triglycerides. It will not stimulate insulin production in Type 1 diabetics because their bodies cannot make insulin.
• Artichoke can replace carbohydrate-based foods, i.e., pasta made from artichoke flour doesn’t increase blood sugar like wheat flour does.
• Burdock treats skin conditions and its fresh root lowers blood sugar.
• Carob can help slow the release of sugars and fight sugar cravings.
• Cinnamon is thought to aid in lowering blood sugar.
• Fresh garlic aids in circulation and digestion.
• Green, Black and White Tea are helpful for their anti-oxidant properties.
• Stevia’s is a better sugar replacement because it 1) has no aftertaste 2) doesn’t cause side effects, and 3) is sweet enough to use much less.
• Turmeric helps stabilize blood sugar when taken before meals.
How Do Herbs Treat Diabetes?
TCM is the only proven alternative system, but many herbal remedies crossover. In TCM, Type 2 and pre-diabetes are treated via improving the health of the spleen, kidney and stomach. Most diabetics present multiple imbalances in these systems and require several herbal formulas and lifestyle changes for diet, exercise and stress management.
When various researchers pooled their data, findings showed TCM combined with lifestyle changes doubled the likelihood that pre-diabetics could achieve normal blood sugar levels. In that project, participants using herbal remedies were two-thirds more likely to prevent diabetes.
As in conventional medicine, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach in herbal medicine. The practitioner prescribes specific formulas in specific doses and schedules for each individual. Herbal formulas for one person’s spleen deficiency (weak limbs, gas after meals) would be different than those for a person whose spleen issues were loss of appetite or energy.
Individualized care that reduces or eliminates diabetes symptoms may reduce the need for insulin. But this must be done with great care to avoid complications and even death. Herbal practitioners should also prescribe lifestyle, diet and exercise plans. The goal is balance. Thus, as in conventional medicine, all facets of the disease are treated.