With the number of people in India with diabetes rising, it is important to recognise it’s importance and how it can affect quality of life. Over 62 million people across India are suffering from this condition, with many of them hoping that one day there would be a cure for the condition and they could go back to eating the foods that they love.
There are a number of different treatments that are available for diabetes, and mostly revolve around diet, exercise, weight loss and tablets. However, there are some that have done quite well with simple home remedies. Here we talk about 5 simple home remedies for diabetes.
Remedy #1 – Garlic
Garlic is a major ingredient in Indian cooking, and adds a great deal of flavor and taste to the food we eat.
Interestingly, garlic has been shown from clinical studies to have an effect on blood sugar levels. In particular, it seems to lower levels of blood sugar following ingestion.
Garlic contains over 400 active components within it, all of which have some form of beneficial effect or another on health. However, the primary component called ‘allicin’ seems to be the one with blood sugar lowering properties.
In addition to allicin, garlic also contains allyl propyl disulfide and S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide which can increase the levels of insulin by ensuring the liver does not inactivate the hormone.
These effects in combination can help reduce blood sugar. Furthermore, garlic can also reduce blood cholesterol levels and fight infections (that may occur in diabetics).
It is not clear how much garlic per day is needed to keep diabetes controlled, but the general recommendation is to keep it in moderation.
Recommendation: Pop in a clove or two of garlic everyday to keep that blood sugar level low. Raw garlic is fine.
Remedy #2 – Cinnamon
In a study published in the reputed journal Diabetes Care, Khan and colleagues found that regular consumption of 1 – 6 gm of cinnamon per day reduced blood glucose levels significantly in patients with type 2 diabetes. This decrease was seen 40 days after commencement of the study, with lower sugar levels noted earlier with higher doses of cinnamon (6 gm). However, the level of sugar reduction was not dependent on how much cinnamon was consumed, meaning that 1 gm and 6 gm had similar effects.
A more recent study in Chinese people has shown improved levels of fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels with regular cinnamon consumption. However, a larger study that assessed a number of research papers (a meta-analysis) found that while cinnamon reduced blood glucose levels, it did not reduce levels of HbA1c.
It is believed that cinnamon can reduce blood sugar levels by acting on the insulin receptor and by altering enzymes that are involved in glucose metabolism. Once again though, it is unclear as to what quantity must be consumed and how often.
Of course, the real benefit is surrounded by controversy, but it is fair to say that the effects are either there or neutral.
Recommendation: Have 1 gram of cinnamon per day in your diet. That should do the trick.
Remedy #3 – Flaxseeds
The recent years have flaxseeds (Alsi) become one of the popular simple home remedies in diabetes management.
In a study by Thakur and colleagues that looked at the ingestion of flaxseed gum, fasting blood sugar levels reduced from 154 +/- 8 mg/dl to 136 +/- 7 mg/dl over a period of six months, which was quite significant.
In a more robust study performed by Mani and colleagues, regular supplementation of a diabetic diet with 10 gm of flaxseed powder led to a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels by 19% and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) by 15.6%.
In addition, both the above studies showed a reduction in the levels of total cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels.
One suggested mechanism through which flaxseed can reduce blood sugar levels is its property of making one feel full. Flaxseed is high in fiber, and following consumption the individual may feel full. This means they would eat lesser quantities of food regularly, which in turn would reduce their blood sugar levels.
Recommendation: Consume 1 tablespoons of ground flaxseed powder daily in 1 glass of warm water every morning on an empty stomach to reap the benefits.
Remedy #4 – Bitter Gourd
Also called Momordica charantia in the botanical world, bitter gourd (karela) has been widely studied and acclaimed for its anti-diabetic properties.
Studies have shown that bitter gourd contains substances such as charantin, vicine and polypeptide -p; all of which have blood sugar lowering properties.
Animal studies have shown that the extract of bitter gourd may help regeneration of the beta cells of the pancreas (which are responsible for the production of insulin).
Bitter gourd also seems to reduce the quantity of food eaten by diabetic patients. Hasan and colleagues found that consuming dried bitter gourd ‘tablets’ (which were essentially sliced gourd) twice daily over a period of 4 weeks greatly reduced the quantity of food and water consumed by patients with diabetes. Of course, blood sugar levels were also remarkably reduced when patients were followed up for 12 weeks.
Recommendation: Juice it! Have 1 glass of bitter gourd juice once every 2 to 3 days for optimal effect.
Remedy #5 – Neem
Neem is popular in herbal products, and there is a reason for that. Both the leaves and the bark of the twigs seem to have a positive effect on the control of blood sugars.
In a study by Patil and colleagues, neem root bark extract reduced blood sugar levels in diabetic mice.
It appears that neem has an effect on how sensitive the cells in the body are to insulin. By increasing insulin sensitivity, the body starts to respond better to the sugars that are consumed in the daily diet. This in turn helps to keep blood sugar levels low.
Recommendation: This is one to blend in a mixer and drink. Do so on an empty stomach for best results.
There are many other foods that are useful in treating and controlling diabetes. Green tea has numerous properties, one of which is control of blood sugars. The Indian Blackberry (jamun) can reduce blood sugar by preventing the conversion of starch to sugar. Soluble fiber in Isapgol seems to work well.
There are many home remedies for diabetes, and we have listed some of the favorites of our patients. Scientific evidence seems to support their use, so go ahead and indulge. However, do make sure to do so after you have spoken with your doctor.
1. Mahmoodi, M., et al. “The effects of consumption of raw garlic on serum lipid level, blood sugar and a number of effective hormones on lipid and sugar metabolism in hyperglycemic and/or hyperlipidemic individuals——Benefit of raw garlic consumption.” Advances in Biological Chemistry 1.02 (2011): 29.
2. Khan, Alam, et al. “Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 26.12 (2003): 3215-3218.
3. Thakur, Goutam, et al. “Effect of flaxseed gum on reduction of blood glucose and cholesterol in type 2 diabetic patients.” International journal of food sciences and nutrition 60.sup6 (2009): 126-136.
4. Mani, Uliyar Vitaldas, et al. “An open-label study on the effect of flax seed powder (Linum usitatissimum) supplementation in the management of diabetes mellitus.” Journal of dietary supplements 8.3 (2011): 257-265.
5. Singh, Neera, and Manushma Gupta. “Regeneration of beta cells in islets of Langerhans of pancreas of alloxan diabetic rats by acetone extract of Momordica charantia (Linn.)(bitter gourd) fruits.” Indian journal of experimental biology 45.12 (2007): 1055.
6. Patil, Prabhakar, et al. “Antidiabetic activity of alcoholic extract of neem (Azadirachta indica) root bark.” Natl J Physiol Pharm Pharmacol 3 (2013): 142-146.