Source: An Excerpt from Cracking the Metabolic Code
Author: James B. LaValle, R.Ph., C.C.N., N.D. with Stacy Lundin Yale, R.N., B.S.N.
Gymnema is a vine indigenous to the rain forests of central and southern India. Ayurvedic medical texts dating back 2,000 years document the use of gymnema in the treatment of “sweet urine,” or diabetes. Although the exact mechanism is not known, the hypoglycemic or blood sugar-lowering action of the plant may be due to its ability to stimulate the release of insulin stores in the body. Gymnema reportedly increases the activity of enzymes involved in the utilization of glucose by insulin-dependent pathways. Studies with gymnema have suggested that it may also help in weight loss and in suppressing sweets cravings. So, if you are trying to get your carbohydrate-craving and weight-storing chemistry under control, gymnema may be of benefit.
Bitter melon fruit has been reported to significantly improve the body’s natural ability to regulate glucose in humans and animals. Research indicates that molecules with insulin-like bioactivity may be present in bitter melon seeds. A few studies suggest that the mechanism of bitter melon could be partly attributed to an ability to aid the body in increasing glucose utilization in the liver.
Either way, bitter melon has long been used in South America and the Orient, not only as a food, but also as a medicinal agent used to support the whole system of those with diabetes. Bitter melon helps by improving blood sugar balance and reducing the amount of sugars in the blood. This supplement should find an important role in reducing insulin resistance.
Cinnamon Extract (Cinnamomum spp.)
Cinnamon is among the world’s most frequently consumed spices. Current research suggests that this much-loved spice may have a beneficial impact on our health, as well as on our palates. A compound in cinnamon bark-methylhydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP)-has been shown to increase glucose metabolism (the process in which cells convert glucose to energy) roughly twenty-fold in a laboratory test conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Researchers tested approximately fifty plant extracts and found that none of them came close to MHCP’s level of affecting glucose metabolism. What’s more, MHCP prevented the formation of oxygen radicals in a blood platelet test, proving it to be a valuable antioxidant.
Vanadium is a trace mineral known to be essential in extremely small quantities to plants and animals, yet debate exists over whether it is essential to humans. Research on vanadium, whose biochemical properties are similar to chromium’s, indicates that it may produce insulin-like activities in the body, making it of potential value for those with diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Oral doses of vanadyl sulfate (the active form of vanadium) were shown to decrease fasting blood glucose levels (glucose levels obtained after no calories are consumed for at least eight hours prior to drawing levels) by 20 percent among people with type 2 diabetes. Vanadium has been reported in some studies to increase insulin sensitivity among patients with type 2 diabetes.
The influence of chromium (also called glucose tolerance factor, or GTF) on blood sugar regulation was first recognized in animal studies in the 1950s. Later, in the 1970s, it was discovered that hospital patients receiving intravenous feedings deficient in chromium had poor insulin regulation and hyperglycemia. Since then, there continues to be solid data documenting the success of chromium in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Chromium is believed to facilitate insulin by activating the protein kinase molecules on receptor cells, thereby enhancing the uptake of glucose and other nutrients. By aiding insulin in the body, chromium helps to prevent the breakdown of muscle during periods of fasting. Chromium is thought to stimulate fat metabolism and to have a lowering effect on cholesterol and triglyceride levels.