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A Growing Epidemic: Taking Aim at Managing Blood Sugar

Author: Jan Cole, M.Ed.

The loss of insulin sensitivity can be decreased with the right nutrients. Numerous vitamins, minerals, herb and antioxidants have been studied for their efficacy at promoting healthy blood sugar and protecting cells from the damage of elevated blood sugars with favorable results.

Fenugreek extract – significant anti-diabetic effects demonstrated in experimental and clinical studies in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports improved glucose tolerance in both Type I and II diabetes. Pancreatic function is stimulated with consistent intake of the herb; significantly reducing both fasting and post meal glucose levels with relatively mild diabetics. Healthy subjects experienced no change in glucose levels. (Natural Treatments for Diabetes pg 19); (Clinical Applications of Herbal Medicine pg 19); (Syndrome X- pg 223)

Gulvel -also known as Tinospora Cordifolia, a multi-faceted plant, widely believed not only to help restore vital energy body, but also to help revive the pancreas. Indeed, it has been found to help balance levels of both blood fats and blood sugar. (Journal of Longevity-Vol. 7/No. 12-pg 41)

Gymnema sylvestre – one of most powerful herbal agents for blood sugar control, has therapeutic value for both Type I and II diabetics. Recent U.S. clinical study showed that the extract reduced the average fasting glucose by 11%, post-meal glucose by 13% and A1c by 6.8%. Another study reported Type I diabetics, average insulin requirements dropped by almost 30%. In another study Type II diabetics. A1c levels were reduced from 12-8.5%. (A1c test is an indicator of the average blood sugar control over the last 2-8 months). There is evidence that Gymnema extracts may possibly regenerate or revitalize the pancreas’ insulin-producing beta cells.

Jambolan – a species of cloves used in Ayurvedic medicine, used to treat diabetes because it quickly reduces blood sugar without side effects. It may also decrease the risk of a diabetic developing atherosclerosis, since it contains oleanolic acid, which short circuits the chemical reactions that make toxic free radicals. (Natural Treatments for Diabetes-pg 21); (Prescription for Herbal Healing-pgs 84-85)

Pterocarpus marsupium – has a long history in India as a treatment for diabetes. A potent flavonoid in this tree has been shown to help regenerate beta cells in the pancreas. Researchers in India studied the effects of this herb and were amazed to find it helped control blood sugar levels in 69% of individuals with blood sugar problems. (Natural Treatments for Diabetes- pg 45); (Journal of Longevity-Volume 7/No.12-pg 41)

Bitter Melon/ Karela/ Bitter Gourd (Mormordica Charantia Extract) – tropical fruit from Asia and SA contains polypeptide p or p-insulin (p for plant). The blood sugar lowering action of the fresh fruit or extract of the unripe fruit, is clearly established in human clinical trials and in experimental models. One study: glucose tolerance increased in 78% of Type II diabetics. In another, the extract produced a 17% reduction in glycosylated hemoglobin A1c after 7 weeks of use. (The Pill Book Guide of Natural Medicines pgs 347 & 548); (The Healing Power of Herbs pgs- 357&358)

Cinnamon – the spice, (not the flavoring), ground bark of an Asian tree-researchers Beltsville (Maryland) Human Nutrition Research Center discovered cinnamon – made fat cells more responsive to insulin helping to control blood sugar levels. It’s most active compound-methyllhydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP) – was isolated showing increase in the conversion of glucose to energy by 20 times and blocked the formation of dangerous free radical activity, thereby reducing or slowing the progression of diabetic complications. (Diabetes Care, Dec 2003). Significant reductions in blood sugar, ranging from 18 to 29% were reported in a similar study. (Men’s Health Magazine-Dec 2000- pg 40); (Natural Treatments for Diabetes-pg 19)

Bilberry extract – widely used as a preventive treatment for complications of diabetes and blood sugar imbalances. It improves night vision, strengthens capillaries, reduces blood clotting and has antioxidant action. Research, primarily from Italy, has uncovered its potential for treating retinal problems from poor blood circulations, diabetes caused glaucoma, and day blindness. (Journal of Longevity- Volume 5/ No. 8) (New Encyclopedia Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, & Herbs)

Vanadyl sulfate – the active form of vanadium, a trace mineral that mimics the action of the hormone insulin. Studies report it’s effectiveness in normalizing blood sugar levels and controlling insulin resistance; showing benefits for both Type I and II. Results of one study: Type II noted an average 20% reduction in fasting blood sugar; Type I required less insulin.

Zinc– mulitiple roles, needed to help the pancreas produce insulin, to work more effectively and to protect insulin receptor cells. If levels are low: 1) pancreas may not secrete adequate amounts of insulin, so glucose levels remain high. 2) insulin released may be ineffective, then glucose can’t enter cells and remains elevated in the blood. It’s helpful for immunity and tissue repair.

Chromium GTF (glucose tolerance factor) – This rare mineral plays a major role in enhancing sensitivity of cells to insulin. Levels in tissues decrease as we age. Over 20 clinical studies show chromium: -Improves glucose tolerance and can restore it to normal -Enhances insulin secretion, lowers insulin levels -Decrease fasting glucose and insulin levels in gestational diabetes -Promote healthy HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels – Encourages the loss of body fat and promotes muscular gains. An estimated 90% of Americans have a serious Chromium shortage. (Reversing Diabetes); (The Pill Guide Book to Natural Medicines).