Diabetes, both of types I and II, have become an increasingly common affliction today. This disease, which is usually associated with people of advanced age, is also found in the young. While rarely a debilitating disease, it does complicate daily life and needs medical intervention to be treated.
Pharmaceuticals are not the only recourse when it comes to managing diabetes, there are a handful of herbal alternatives that I shall share with you, which can help you manage this condition if not treat it completely.
The disease commonly known as diabetes is a term for one of two main disorders.Type I Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin. This leads to high blood sugar levels in the body. It is caused by an autoimmune response that kills the cells present in the Pancreas that produce insulin. Type II Diabetes, is a long onset disorder, caused by obesity and lack of exercise. It is characterised by high blood sugar, insulin resistance and generally low levels of insulin present in the system.
Type I diabetes has no cure and medical intervention is required for survival, but for patients with Type II there are a few herbal remedies worth trying out.
7 Indian Herbs That Help Combat Diabetes
This super root features in so many herbal remedies because it is jam packed with compounds that are beneficial to our systems. Ginger has been shown to help control blood sugar levels by stimulating sugar absorption by muscle tissue. It is recommended to regulate intake to about four grams every day, as it can upset your stomach in large amounts. Other than that, it is completely safe. Ginger does make its way into almost every Indian’s diet, but if it isn’t, try making a pot of ginger tea instead of plain green tea. Ginger lemonade is another option one can try.
Cinnamon has recently come under study for its properties that help in controlling blood sugar levels in Type II Diabetics. So much so, that it is also been researched as a part of treatment for Alzheimer’s, which is now being Type III diabetes by some researchers. You can include a gram of cinnamon in your daily diet very easily. One option is to simply brew tea with cinnamon. I do this quite often as I love the flavor it imparts, in addition to all its health benefits.
Tulsi, or holy basil, is a constant household presence in almost all homes in India. It is revered for its numerous medicinal properties, and not surprisingly, has a part to play in the management of type II diabetes. Tulsi, consumed either whole as leaves or in the form of juice, helps lower blood sugar levels and raise insulin sensitivity by a small margin. Tulsi juice is very easy to prepare. Simply collect leaves, soft branches, roots, seeds, and flower of the plant, chop them up and grind them down to a paste in a mortar and pestle. Squeezing this paste through a muslin cloth will give you the juice. Or you can always brew tea!
One remedy my grandmother used to swear by, for her own diabetes, was Garlic. She used to use garlic steeped oil to massage her calves and feet, which used to be inflamed. Though a rather odorous recourse, recent studies have shown that garlic may not only help regulate blood sugar but helps reduce the chances of heart disease. This is of importance, as almost 80% of Diabetics develop heart disease. Studies also suggest that garlic may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis-related inflammation or swelling is a common presence in patients with Diabetes. Hence, my Grandma’s garlic oil massages.
There was a reason why I suggested you brew tea so many times, and that’s because Green Tea itself does the body a lot of good. It is packed full of Antioxidants. It also helps sensitize the body to insulin, thus helping the body metabolize sugar better. So, have a cup of Green Tea every day, and you can give it a boost with either ginger or cinnamon, whichever you prefer.
Karela (Bitter Gourd)
The Karela or Bitter Gourd isn’t a particularly popular vegetable. This is mostly due to the fact, that it lives up to its name, and is quite bitter in taste. As a child, I was extremely resistant to eating it and it took me a very long time to develop a taste for it. One thing I do recall very clearly is my grandma insisting I eat it as it purifies the blood. She wasn’t wrong about that. Karela juice is a potent blood purifier and as a hypoglycemic substance, it helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Karela juice can be easily made at home. Cut the karela with the skin and the seeds, soak in water with salt for 15 minutes. This will help reduce the bitter taste. Now take out the pieces from the water and grind it with the water and a few drops of lemon. The juice should ideally be consumed on an empty stomach, early in the morning.
Bitter things to make the best medicine, as Neem is another bitter plant that helps in the management of Diabetes. Extracts from the leaves of the Neem have been shown to lower blood sugar levels. One teaspoon of Neem juice, early in the morning, is all that’s needed.
Jamun (Indian Blackberry)
Jamuns have been used as a treatment for Diabetes in India for ages. Both the fruit and the leaves of the plant have shown to not only help regulate blood sugar levels but also stimulate insulin production.The kernels of the seeds of the fruit, provide the best results. Dried and powdered seeds, taken three times a day will help. You can also always just eat the fruit as a snack, with a little salt.