(NaturalHealth365) Don’t ignore high blood sugar levels. According to the CDC, diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Over 29 million Americans have the disease, while another 86 million live with prediabetes, a serious condition that can lead to full-blown diabetes.
Although modern medicine has a wide array of pharmaceutical drugs to manage diabetes, their dangerous side effects – and considerable expense – have led many to seek alternative and natural remedies. The good news: for natural blood sugar control, you may need to look no further than your own kitchen cabinet.
Read on to find out about the common herbs and spices that can decrease insulin resistance and lower blood sugar – safely and effectively.
Eliminate high blood sugar levels with basil
Basil, scientifically known as Ocimum basilicum, is valued in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine for its piquant, distinctive flavor. But this tasty herb is also an effective weapon against elevated blood sugar, reducing the absorption of glucose and preventing harmful rises in blood sugar levels.
Researchers believe basil gets much of its blood sugar-lowering powers from its content of ursolic acid and eugenol, both potent antioxidants. Basil also has diabetes-fighting anti-inflammatory effects – courtesy of its rich stores of beta-caryophyllene, a proven inhibitor of pro-inflammatory COX-2.
In one study, patients with type 2 diabetes received either a placebo or 2.5 g of dried basil leaf a day. The basil group experienced a 17.6 percent reduction in fasting blood glucose levels and a 7.3 percent decrease in postprandial, or after-meal, blood glucose levels – a very significant result.
Fenugreek offers favorable blood sugar results
Fenugreek, scientifically known as Trigonella foecum-graecum, is a time-honored herbal remedy for high blood sugar – with solid science behind it. Fenugreek seeds contain an amino acid called 4-hydroxyisoleucine – a somewhat tongue-twisting name for a beneficial substance that normalizes glucose metabolism.
In a study published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, study subjects with type 1 diabetes who consumed fenugreek seed powder twice a day experienced lowered fasting blood sugar levels and improved glucose tolerance, while decreasing urinary glucose output by a striking 54 percent.
Bonus: fenugreek can also decrease levels of harmful LDL cholesterol – an important factor in controlling diabetes and heart disease. Herbalists and natural healers often advise dosages ranging from 2 to 5 grams of fenugreek seeds per day. Fenugreek can also be taken in powdered form, or brewed into a tea.
Seek out sweet, spicy Ceylon cinnamon for better blood sugar numbers
Researchers credit Ceylon cinnamon with improving insulin sensitivity, and studies have shown that the spice promotes glucose uptake by activating the insulin receptor kinase activity.
In an animal study published in Pharmacognosy Research in 2012, Ceylon cinnamon – scientifically known as Cinnamomum zeylanicum – lowered blood glucose, reduced food intake, and decreased levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.
And, the beneficial effects aren’t confined to animals.
In a meta-review of clinical studies published in 2013 in Annals of Family Medicine, the authors concluded that consumption of cinnamon is associated with a “statistically significant” decrease in levels of fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Natural healers may recommend dosages ranging from one-quarter to one teaspoon of powdered cinnamon a day for blood sugar control.
A word of caution: Cassia cinnamon, or Cinnamomum aromaticum, can contain high levels of coumarin, a natural blood thinner. To be on the safe side, opt for Ceylon cinnamon, also called “true cinnamon,” which features far lower coumarin levels.
Consider cloves to lower blood glucose
Cloves, scientifically known as Sygyzium aromaticum, contain anthocyanins, the same type of beneficial plant pigment found in blueberries. These strongly-flavored, nail-shaped buds are also rich in quercetin – a powerful antioxidant that helps plants resist disease – along with high levels of eugenol.
Clinical research supports cloves’ ability to lower blood sugar. In a study published in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal in 2006, subjects with type 2 diabetes were given capsules containing 1, 2 or 3 grams of cloves daily for 30 days, while a placebo group received no cloves.
Blood sugar levels in the clove group plummeted from 225 mg/dL to 150 mg/dL, while levels of harmful LDL cholesterol plunged from 175 mg/dL to 145 mg/dL. At the same time, the clove supplements did not lower levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Researchers concluded that eating 1 to 3 grams of cloves a day can reduce risk factors for diabetes, while helping diabetics manage blood sugar and cholesterol.
For maximum health benefits, many natural healers recommend using cloves and cinnamon together.
Go Mediterranean with oregano and rosemary
These two common, flavorful kitchen herbs are proving their merit in reducing blood sugar – yet another plus for the heart-healthy and obesity-preventing Mediterranean diet, in which they play a key role.
Oreganum vulgare and rosemarinus officianalis are rich in the powerful antioxidants gallic acid and rosmarinic acid. Like their relative, basil, they contain antioxidant eugenol as well.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry, the duo inhibited a diabetes-promoting enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase IV. Although it’s always preferable to use fresh, organic herbs when available, researchers found that the dried “supermarket” versions of oregano and rosemary were just as effective in controlling blood sugar as fresh herbs grown in greenhouses.
Inexpensive and easily available, both oregano and rosemary are safe when used in quantities found in foods. Use them abundantly in recipes, or brew the fresh leaves or dried powder into a refreshing rosemary and oregano tea.
Although these common herbs and spices can often equal the blood sugar-lowering effects of diabetes medications, you should never stop taking prescribed medications unless advised by your physician. Obviously, when dealing with blood sugar issues, talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to eliminate your health issues.
Naturally, if your doctor is unable to help you … it’s time to find another physician.
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