Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a chronic disease. In simple words, it is a long-lasting and recurrent medical setback. People with diabetes typically consume medicines for as long as they live. Although anti-diabetes medicines do provide relief from high blood sugar levels, their side effects are quite notorious and known to damage organs and stir metabolic disorders. No wonder, then, more and more doctors now recommend alternative ways, which include herbal remedies and supplements apart from diabetes control programs based on diet and exercise routines.
Interestingly, some of the other options available to people with diabetes today include yoga, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture.
Exploring Herbal Remedies for Diabetes Management
Some recent studies have shown that extracts from Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Aloe Vera, and Neem improve insulin sensitivity. Oregano rallies pancreas activity in general and metabolism in particular. Just like oregano, even ginger triggers the secretion of a hormone called insulin, which helps transfer sugar to the cells for the body’s energy needs. Another herbal extract that has been found to be quite effective is Aloe Vera. This plant is known to reduce inflammation, which incidentally is one of the causes of diabetes.
The Role of Supplements in Diabetes Control
Dietary supplements are mostly artificial add-ons that replicate specific vitamins/nutrients in the foods we eat daily. For example, chromium-based supplements are known for improving insulin sensitivity. On the other hand, magnesium is added to the Diabetes Control regime because it offers protection against some of the long-term complications (retinopathy) associated with diabetes. Yet another cause of diabetes is the build-up of free radicals in the body; therefore, doctors recommend supplements known for their antioxidant properties. Supplements also play an important role in reversing pre-diabetes.
Traditional Herbal Approaches in Different Cultures
Diabetes is addressed differently in different cultures. For example, Indian Ayurvedic Doctors offer herbal concoctions based on ginger, turmeric and several plant extracts apart from suggesting Yoga and fasting. The Chinese have their own traditional strategy to address diabetes, including Ginseng (immunity booster / improved insulin production), herbs (Cortex Lycii), which is distinct to their land, acupuncture, and Ionotherapy. Although Western diabetes treatment includes conventional medicines, it also recommends diet and weight management. Interestingly, the Japanese frequently adopt Reiki as the traditional option.
Scientific Evidence and Research on Herbal Remedies
The scientific communities have admitted that plant extracts/herbs have the power to weaken diabetes symptoms, and if consumed from an early age, they may provide a solid shield and even delay the onset of diabetes. Recently, the World Health Organisation published a list of thousands of plants that are known to have medicinal benefits. Readers will be surprised to learn that extracts from Neem, Fenugreek, and Tulsi (Holy Basil) have the power to reverse insulin resistance.
Herbal Remedies versus Conventional Diabetes Medications
While most of the conventional medicines prescribed for diabetes are synthetic in nature and known for their long-term negative impact on human organs, there are a few that are partly derived from medicinal plants. However, the fact is that diabetes medicines may also result in frequent episodes of hypoglycaemia, weight gain, stomach-related issues, etc. In contrast, herbal options have almost nil side effects but require time and patience to reflect their effectiveness. A point to note—plant extracts / herbal treatment does not offer a permanent cure.
Potential Risks and Side Effects of Herbal Treatments
Not many know that even plant extracts / herbal medicines can have short-term side effects. This includes vomiting, itching, diarrhoea, and skin-related problems. However, you can always opt for an alternative. Depending solely on herbal medicines can be dangerous as these products are not tested for their efficacy and long-term use.
Incorporating Herbal Remedies and Supplements into Your Diabetes Management Plan
Incorporating herbal remedies and supplements into your diabetes management plan is a great way to address vitamin deficiencies, especially those that are directly responsible for diabetes and also to reverse type-2 diabetes. Most of the herbal medicines can be consumed in warm water, tea, or milk. On the other hand, supplements/vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamin B1 can be consumed in oral form along with conventional anti-diabetes medications. This twin strategy can help improve insulin sensitivity and better blood glucose control.
Consultation with Healthcare Professionals for a Balanced Approach
Although consulting a healthcare professional for a balanced approach is essential, studies have offered contradicting results. While some of the participants simply exploit dual strategy to offset costs, others use this approach to reduce the side effects of conventional medicines. Either way, it may be harmful in the long run as there is no proof of the benefits of herbal/traditional combo. Some herbal extracts for diabetes actually dilute the goodness of conventional medicines.
Inference & Disclaimer
Although herbal medicines for diabetes seem like an enigma, their popularity is undoubtedly gaining momentum. Even so, consult your diabetes educator before jumping onto the herbal-supplements-conventional bandwagon.
Please note that this blog is for informational/educational purposes only. Readers are strongly advised not to consider the above content as professional medical advice.
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