Excerpt from: The Tree of Life Program
Author: Gabriel Cousens, MD
Considered one of the most powerful herbs for improving blood sugar status, gymnema has been shown to help normalize blood sugar and triglycerides, reduce sugar cravings, and decrease insulin needs. The researchers also found that the glycogen depletion in the liver and lipid accumulation in diabetic animals was reversed. In another study of Type-2 diabetics, twenty-two were given this herbal extract along with their own oral hypoglycemic drugs. All of these people had an improved blood sugar control. Twenty-one of the subjects were able to reduce their drug dosage significantly. Five were able to discontinue their medication and maintained blood sugar control with this herb alone.1
Bitter melon, also known as Momordica charantia is made of several compounds that have anti-diabetic properties, including charantin, which has been shown to be more powerful than the hypoglycemic drug tolbutamide, and an insulin-like polypeptide called polypeptide-P, which lowers blood sugar when injected into Type-1 diabetics.2 More than 100 studies have demonstrated bitter melon’s ability to decrease the blood sugar, increase the uptake of glucose, and activate the pancreatic cells that manufacture insulin.
Pterocarpus marsupium balances glucose and lowers cholesterol. It was able to reverse the damage to pancreatic beta cells in different studies. This is quite impressive. Even more so, it also helps to counter the effect of insulin resistance, maintains blood sugar levels, and supports insulin release from the pancreas.
Fenugreek has been studied in India for the treatment of Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes.3,4,5,6 Fenugreek seeds are 55 percent fiber, so they slow down the rapid absorption of glucose. Fenugreek normalizes glucose after meals and improves insulin response in the body, and it lowers total cholesterol and triglycerides.4
Cinnamon is a powerful herb for blood sugar control. Dr. Richard Anderson, in a study with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, found that cinnamon can improve glucose metabolism in fat cells by twenty-fold.7 Of the forty-nine herbs, spices and medicinal plant extracts they studied on glucose utilization, they found that cinnamon was the most bioactive.8
1. Baskaran, K, Abamath, B K, Shanmugasundaram, D R, and Shanmugasundaram, E R B. “Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus patients.” J Ethnopharmacol, 1990, 30:295-305.
2. Welihinda, J, Arvidson, G, Gylfe, E, et al. “The insulin-releasing activity of the tropical plant Momordica charantia.” Acta Bio Med Germ, 1982, 41:1229-1240.
3. Bordia, A, et al. “Effect of ginger (Zingthwe officinale Rosc.) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum L.) on blood lipids, blood sugar, and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary artery disease.” Prost Leuko Efa, 1997, 56:379-384.
4. Sharma, R D, Raghumram, T C, and Rao, N S. “Effect of funugreek seeds on blood glucose and serum lipids in type-1 diabetes.” Eur J Clin Nutr, 1990, 44:301-306.
5. Sharma, R D. “Effect of funugreek seeds and leaves on blood glucose and serum insulin responses in human subjects.” Nutr Res, 1986, 6:1353-1364.
6. Madar, Z, et al. “Glucose-lowering effect of fenugreek in non-insulin dependent diabetes.” Eur J Clin Nutr, 1988, 42:51-54.
7. Anderson R A, Broadhurst, C L, Polansky, M M, et al. “Isolation and characterization of polyphenol type-A polymers from cinnamon with insulin-like biological activity.” J Agric Food Chem, Jan. 2004, 52(1):65-70.
8. Broadhurst, C L, Polansky, M M, and Anderson, R.A. Insulin-like biological activity of culinary and medicinal plant aqueous extracts in vitro. J Agric Food Chem, March 2000, 48(3):183-188.