The use of herbs for diabetes is a popular yet controversial method of treatment used to help control blood sugar levels. While many patients have noticed a positive difference when using these herbs, some doctors are concerned that not enough medical research has been done to verify the efficacy of such an alternative treatment method. Bitter melon, ginseng, and fenugreek are commonly used herbs for diabetes, although these supplements should not replace proper medical care. Additional herbs for diabetes that have been reported to produce positive results include stevia, alpha-lipoic acid, and bilberry. Any specific questions or concerns about the use of herbs for diabetes should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
In addition to the concern that there may not be enough scientific proof that the use of herbs for diabetes is an effective treatment method, there is some concern that patients will attempt to self-medicate and not follow the advise of a physician when attempting to manage diabetes. In many cases, the use of herbs for diabetes can be a valuable addition to more traditional methods of treatment and should be supervised by a doctor.
Bitter melon is thought to help block the absorption of sugar by the intestines and help the cells of the body to use glucose more efficiently. Ginseng may help to control diabetes by increasing the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas and decreasing blood sugar levels. Fenugreek contains a type of amino acid that is believed to increase the release of insulin in the body, thereby naturally lowering blood sugar levels.
Stevia is a type of natural sweetener that can be used in place of sugar. Reducing sugar intake is in itself helpful in the proper management of diabetes, although stevia may also contain properties that improve glucose tolerance. Alpha-lipoic acid may help to improve insulin sensitivity and improve common diabetic symptoms, such as nerve pain and numbness. Bilberry is thought to help prevent some of the possible visual disturbances caused by diabetes, such as retinopathy and cataracts.
Before using herbs for diabetes, the supervising physician should be made aware of any medications, including vitamins or herbal treatments, that are being used. Some of these medications may not work well together and will affect which herbs are appropriate for use in an individual situation. A medical doctor, nutritionist, or a licensed homeopathic practitioner can often help the patient create a list of herbs for diabetes that are safe to take on an individual basis.