Diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels, which can cause cognitive difficulties, vertigo, fainting and tiredness. Chronic high blood sugar can even lead to coma or death if not properly addressed through medications or diet. Diabetes also increases your risk of high blood cholesterol, a factor for heart disease. Herbs cannot cure diabetes; however, herbal teas may help reduce symptoms and risks associated with this condition. Talk to your physician before treating diabetes with any herbal tea. Herbs should not replace ongoing medical attention.
Ginseng is most commonly associated with Panax ginseng, an herb grown in China. However, American ginseng, grown primarily in Wisconsin, has a similar chemical structure. Both types of ginseng are widely marketed in the United States as energy enhancers. Teas made from this herb may help fight diabetes-related fatigue, according to Gale Maleskey, author of "Nature's Medicines." Ginseng tea may also increase the sensitivity of blood sugar to insulin, a substance that transports sugars to cells for energy. Check with your doctor before drinking ginseng tea to treat diabetes -- it may occasionally cause sleep disturbances.
Dandelion is not commonly regarded as a medicinal herb in the Western world; however, Chinese healers have used teas made with this herb to treat colds and pneumonia for more than 1,000 years, according to Michael Castleman, author of "The New Healing Herbs." Dandelion may also help clear excess glucose, or sugars, from your bloodstream, reducing diabetes symptoms. Consult your physician before using dandelion tea to treat diabetes. In rare cases, it may cause diarrhea or skin rashes.
Green tea is widely known in the United States as a rich source of polyphenols, which are antioxidant chemicals that may reduce the risk of cancer. However, green tea may also offer benefits for diabetics. It may help slow the conversion of carbohydrates from starchy foods, such as potatoes and corn, into glucose, according to Phyllis Balch, author of "Prescription for Herbal Healing." It may also help prevent sticky deposits that can harden your arteries and contribute to heart disease. Talk to your doctor if you plan to use green tea to prevent diabetes symptoms. The tannins in green tea may cause stomach upset.
Licorice is most commonly associated with candy, which is typically flavored with anise rather than licorice root. However, true licorice has been used for more than 5,000 years as a treatment for respiratory problems and sore throat, notes Castleman. Licorice root tea may also help prevent diabetes-related cataracts, according to Balch. Check with your physician before using licorice tea as a diabetes treatment. Licorice may rob your body of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate heart rhythm.
- "Nature's Medicines"; Gale Maleskey; 1999
- "The New Healing Herbs"; Michael Castleman; 2010
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. et al.; 2010