- Ayurvedic Combination Herbal Therapies
- Berberine ( Goldenseal )
- Black Tea
- Bitter Melon
- Cod Protein
- Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ 10 )
- Coccinia indica
- Green Tea
- Holy Basil
- Lipoic Acid
- Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
- Milk Thistle
- Nopal Cactus
- Ooolong Tea
- Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs)
- Sage Leaf Extract
- Salacia oblonga
- Salvia Hispanica
- Salt Bush
- Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine
- Vitamin E
Diabetes has two forms. In the type that develops early in childhood (type 1), the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas are destroyed (probably by a viral infection), and blood levels of insulin drop nearly to zero. However, in type 2 diabetes (usually developing in adults) insulin remains plentiful, but the body does not respond normally to it. (This is only an approximate description of the difference between the two types.) In both forms of diabetes, blood sugar reaches toxic levels, causing injury to many organs and tissues.
Conventional treatment for type 1 diabetes includes insulin injections and careful dietary monitoring. Type 2 diabetes may respond to lifestyle changes alone, such as increasing exercise , losing weight, and improving diet. Various oral medications are also often effective for type 2 diabetes, although insulin injections may be necessary in some cases.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Several alternative methods may be helpful when used under medical supervision as an addition to standard treatment. They may help stabilize, reduce, or eliminate medication requirements; or correct nutritional deficiencies associated with diabetes. However, because diabetes is a dangerous disease with many potential complications, alternative treatment for diabetes should not be attempted as a substitute for conventional medical care.
Other natural treatments may be helpful for preventing and treating complications of diabetes, such as peripheral neuropathy, cardiac autonomic neuropathy, retinopathy, and cataracts. See the article on Complications of Diabetes for more information.
Treatments for Improving Blood Sugar Control
Another point to keep in mind is this: If any natural treatment for diabetes actually works, you will need to reduce your medications to avoid hypoglycemia. For this reason, medical supervision is essential.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that plays a significant role in sugar metabolism. Some evidence suggests that chromium supplementation may help bring blood sugar levels under control in type 2 diabetes, but it is far from definitive.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Chromium article.
(Panax quinquefolius) Panax ginseng
Panax ginseng Panax ginseng worsen Panax ginseng not
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Ginseng article.
The succulent aloe plant has been valued since prehistoric times as a topical treatment for burns, wound infections, and other skin problems. However, recent evidence suggests that oral aloe might be useful for type 2 diabetes.
Evidence from two human trials suggests that aloe gel can improve blood sugar control.
While these are promising results, large studies that are double- rather than single-blind will be needed to establish aloe as an effective treatment for improving blood sugar control.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Aloe article.
However, this study has some odd features. The most important is that it found no significant difference in benefit between the various doses of cinnamon. This is called lack of a “dose-related effect,” and it generally casts doubt on the results of a study.
The bottom line: The evidence regarding cinnamon as a treatment for diabetes is highly inconsistent, suggesting that if cinnamon is indeed effective, the dosage is very unclear and its benefits may be minimal at most.
For more information, see the full cinnamon article.
The following herbs are proposed for helping to control blood sugar, but the supporting evidence regarding their potential benefit is, in all cases, at best highly preliminary. For some, there are as many negative results as positive.
- Agaricus Blazei 202
- Berberine ( Goldenseal )
- Black tea 211,223
- Caiapo 144, 156
- Cod protein 215
- Cayenne 181
- Coccinia indica (also known as Coccinia cordifolia ) 50,225
- Garlic 220
- Ginger 245
- Green tea 211,221,237
- Guggul 70
- Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum)58-59
- Maitake 72
- Nopal cactus (Opuntia stredptacantha) 60-65
- Onion 45
- Oolong tea 155
- Salacia oblonga 188,214,227
- Sage leaf extract ( Salvia officinalis ) 244
- Salvia hispanica (a grain) 217
- Salt bush 48-49, 55-57
bitter melonMomordica charantia
Azadirachta indica (neem) Catharanthus roseus Cucurbita ficifolia Cucumis sativus Cuminum cyminum Euphorbia prostrata Guaiacum coulteri Guazuma ulmifolia Lepechinia caulescensMedicago sativa (alfalfa) Musa sapientum L.Phaseolus vulgarisPsacalium peltatum Rhizophora mangle Spinacea oleracea Tournefortia hirsutissima Turnera diffusaAnemarrhena asphodeloides
Treating Nutritional Deficiencies in Diabetes
Both diabetes and the medications used to treat it can cause people to fall short of various nutrients. Making up for these deficiencies (either through diet or the use of supplements) may or may not help your diabetes specifically, but it should make you a healthier person overall.
The results were positive. In the group in which children were screened and given niacinamide if they were positive for ICA antibodies, the incidence of diabetes was reduced by almost 60%.
These findings suggest that niacinamide is an effective treatment for preventing diabetes. (The study also indicates that tests for ICA antibodies can very accurately identify children at risk for diabetes.)
Supplements to Use Only With Caution
For information on other herbs and supplements that may interact adversely with drugs used by people with diabetes, see the individual drug articles in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
Finally, if any herb or supplement does in fact successfully decrease blood sugar levels, this could potentially lead to dangerous hypoglycemia. A doctor's supervision is strongly suggested
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 01/23/2015 -