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Treating diabetes naturally

MagazineOctober 2001 (Vol. 12 Issue 7)Treating diabetes naturally

There are a number of 'natural' treatment approaches which can help to keep type 2 diabetes under control

There are a number of 'natural' treatment approaches which can help to keep type 2 diabetes under control.

Supplement with vitamin E. Vitamin E can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in diabetics, according to a study carried out by researchers at the University of Texas (Circulation, 2000; 102: 191-6).Furthermore, there is mounting evidence that raised blood glucose levels lead to the production of more free radicals, and vitamin E has been shown to stop the production of free radicals (Diabetes Care, 1991; 14: 68-72). Vitamin E also helps with circulation and stabilises blood sugar (Diabetes, 1982; 31: 947-51; Diabetes, 1984; 33: 239-43; Metabolism, 1992; 41: 613-21; Am J Clin Nutr, 1993; 57: 650-6).

Use onion and garlic liberally. Both are now known to have a significant ability to lower blood sugar (Ind J Med Res, 1977; 65: 422-9; Quart J Crude Drug Res, 1979; 17: 139-96).

Take fenugreek seeds, as these have also been shown to be effective in lowering blood sugar (Eur J Clin Nutr, 1988; 42: 51-4; Eur J Clin Nutr, 1990; 44: 301-6).

Include nopal, a type of prickly pear cactus, in your diet. This plant has been shown to reduce glucose and insulin levels. In a double blind study, a group of type 2 diabetics consumed 500 g of broiled nopal stems. After three hours, all achieved an average reduction of 17 per cent in glucose and 50 per cent in insulin compared with those taking a placebo (Diabetes Care, 1988; 11: 63-6).

Include dandelion root, Jerusalem artichokes and burdock root in your diet. These all contain a substance called inulin, which assists in controlling blood sugar (Am J Clin Nutr, 1990; 52: 675-81), and in reducing hyperglycaemia and fatigue after a starchy meal (Ann Intern Med, 1931; 5: 274-84).

Take a spoonful of cinnamon every day, as this can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Made from tree bark, cinnamon works by making cells more responsive to insulin.

Supplement with ginseng. Scientists at the University of Toronto discovered that, if taken before a meal, ginseng reduces blood sugar levels (Arch Intern Med, 2000; 160: 1009- 13). It may also be important in preventing diabetes in those who have not yet developed the disease.

In the Toronto study, each participant, diabetic and non diabetic, was given a 3g capsule of powdered American ginseng either 40 minutes before or during a test meal. The results showed that, among the diabetics, the ginseng produced a 20 per cent reduction in blood sugar levels. However, in non diabetics, blood sugar reduction was achieved only when they took the ginseng before the meal.

"Although preliminary, these findings are encouraging and indicate that American ginseng's potential role in diabetes should be taken seriously and investigated further," says the lead investigator Dr Vladimir Vuksan.


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