Metformin, a prescription drug widely used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, helps control blood glucose levels and also increases the body’s response to insulin. While the side effects of metformin may make the drug’s use inadvisable for some patients, alternatives, including herbal remedies, are available. However, do not begin a regimen of self-treatment for diabetes or any other illness before consulting with your doctor.
Practitioners of ayurvedic medicine, which has its origins on the Indian subcontinent, have been using fenugreek to treat a wide array of ailments for centuries. In recent years, medical researchers have sought to determine how effective the herb is in controlling the symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to Maggie Greenwood-Robinson, author of “Control Diabetes in Six Easy Steps.”
In an Indian study, patients with type 1 diabetes were given daily doses of 100 g of defatted fenugreek seed powder, which was divided into two equal servings and incorporated into the patients’ daily diets. Another group of type 1 diabetics in the study followed a similar diet that did not include the fenugreek supplement. At the end of the 10-day study, patients in the fenugreek group showed sharply reduced fasting blood glucose levels, as well as improved glucose tolerance.
Greenwood-Robinson reports that Israeli researchers looked at fenugreek’s effectiveness in treating type 2 diabetes. They found that a daily supplement of 15 g of powdered fenugreek seed significantly reduced blood glucose levels after meals, leading them to conclude that fenugreek seems to have real potential as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Don’t take fenugreek without first consulting a medical professional.
In an effort to find complementary and alternative therapies to address the worldwide surge in diabetes, pharmacological researchers at India’s Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore studied the antidiabetic effects of eugenia jambolana. The herb is widely used in Indian folk medicine as a remedy for diabetes.
Researchers conducted an animal study in which they fed diabetic rats varying amounts of powdered eugenia jambolana seed over a period of 15 days. At the conclusion of the study all test animals showed reductions in blood glucose levels, although the optimal dosage level was determined to be 500 mg of powdered seed per kg of the test subject’s weight. Results of the study were published in a 2005 issue of the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research.
Check with your doctor before trying this or any other herbal remedy.
Another promising herbal remedy for diabetes is gymnema sylvestre, which has produced positive results in both animal and human studies. The herb has no apparent effects on animals from which the pancreas has been removed. This finding, according to Michael T. Murray and Michael Lyons, suggests that the herb, like metformin, “enhances the production or activity of insulin.”
Murray and Lyon, authors of “How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine,” also cite a human study in which patients with type 1 diabetes were given a gymnema extract dose of 200 mg twice daily. At the conclusion of the study, patients had lower insulin requirements, as well as improved fasting blood sugar levels and better blood sugar control.
Don’t take this or any herbal remedy without consulting with a medical professional.
- MedlinePlus: Metformin
- “Control Diabetes in Six Easy Steps”; Maggie Greenwood-Robinson; 2002
- "Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research"; Preclinical Evaluation of the Antidiabetic Effect of Eugenia Jambolana Seed Powder in Streptozotocin-Diabetic Rats; S.B. Sridhar et al.; 2005
- “How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine”; Michael T. Murray and Michael Lyons; 2004