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Natural Herbal Support for Type 2 Diabetes

Natural Herbal Support for Type 2 Diabetes

Renata Trister DO

Herbal supplements have been studied as supportive treatments for type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes affects more than 20 million Americans.  It is a growing epidemic that is now very common and even seen in children. When someone has type 2 diabetes, it needs to be controlled through managing blood sugar levels. Diet and exercise are most important.

Herbal Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes

Several herbal supplements show promise in supporting type 2 diabetes.


The compound curcumin, which is found in the spice turmeric, has been shown to both boost blood sugar control and help prevent the disease. In a nine-month study of 240 adults with pre-diabetes, those who took curcumin capsules completely avoided developing diabetes while a sixth of patients in the placebo group did.


Ginseng has been used as a traditional medicine for more than 2,000 years. Studies suggest that both Asian and American ginseng may help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. One study found that extract from the ginseng berry was able to normalize blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity in mice.


Benefits of fenugreek for diabetes have been demonstrated in both animal and human trials. In one study of 25 people with type 2 diabetes, fenugreek was found to have a significant effect on controlling blood sugar.

Cinnamomum verum  (true cinnamon)

Consuming about half a teaspoon of this variety of cinnamon daily can result in significant improvement in blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Aloe Vera

This plant has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties. Some studies suggest that the juice from the aloe vera plant can help lower blood sugar in people with types 2 diabetes.  Aloe is available in juice form and can also be purchased fresh.  The fresh leaves can be peeled and added to smoothies. 

Milk thistle

This flowering herb is found around the Mediterranean See.  Its active component is called silybinin. Milk thistle may reduce insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have liver disease.

Holy basil (Tulsi)

This herb is commonly used in India as a traditional medicine for diabetes. Studies in animals suggest that holy basil may increase the secretion of insulin. A controlled trial of holy basil in people with type 2 diabetes showed a positive effect on fasting blood sugar and on blood sugar following a meal.


Gymnema has been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for diabetes. The Hindi name for this herb translates to “destroyer of sugar.”

Modern pharmacological research seems to support this traditional wisdom. Compounds extracted from gymnema have been shown to reduce the absorption of sugar from the intestinal tract and boost insulin production, all of which could help lower blood sugar. Furthermore, an active component of gymnema called gymnemic acid binds to the taste receptors on your tongue that perceive sweetness. As a result, it makes sweet things taste a lot less sweet.  Animal testing confirms that gymnema reduces blood glucose levels.

Healing Foods 
Changing the diet is vital to managing Type 2 Diabetes.  Eliminating processed foods, oils and sugars is critical, not only for diabetics, but for everyone.

Wild blueberries, papayas, blackberries, and raspberries are top fruits to eat if you have type 2 diabetes. Vegetables to focus on include spinach, celery, sprouts, kale, and asparagus. These foods help detoxify the liver, strengthen glucose levels, support the pancreas, boost the adrenal glands, and stabilize insulin.