When living with diabetes, stabilizing blood-sugar levels is key. If lifestyle changes, including amping up fitness and modifying diet, have not led to blood-sugar improvements, consider asking your doctor about these supplements that may have a role in diabetes prevention or management. Never take any supplement, which may have side effects or interfere with medications and require medical supervision, without consulting your doctor. Because current research is limited, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine concludes there is not enough evidence to support herbal supplements as effective diabetes treatment.
Two small studies have found high-fiber fenugreek seeds, used in Indian cooking, to lower blood sugar, as well as cholesterol and triglycerides. The seeds contain an amino acid that may ratchet up insulin secretion. One Nutrition Research study involving 60 people who had Type 2 diabetes but were not on insulin found that taking 25 grams of fenugreek seed powder daily (divided into two equal doses and served at lunch and dinner) for six months led to fasting glucose drops, on average, from 151 mg/dL to 112 mg/dL. Blood-sugar spikes after meals also diminished. Caution: Fenugreek may interact with blood-thinning medications, according to University of Maryland, including warfarin (Coumadin). According to the NIH, side effects may include bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Commonly used in Asian cooking, this vegetable, a relative of honeydew and cantaloupe, is also called bitter cucumber. The fruit and seeds may benefit those with diabetes due to chemical ingredients, including charantin and vicine, with blood-sugar-lowering effects. Just a few human clinical trials have been completed. In a 1999 study of 100 patients with Type 2 diabetes, researchers who studied the effect of bitter melon vegetable pulp one hour, and then two hours, after drinking it (with a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test) found two-hour blood sugar values, on average, decreased to 222 mg/dL from the day before’s 257 mg/dL. Long-term benefits are unknown. Caution: Possible side effects include gastrointestinal problems.
Early research shows that gymnema, also called gumar, a staple of Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine, may be helpful in combination with diabetes drugs or insulin. Translating in Hindi to sugar destroyer, gymnema may also alter the ability to taste sweetness. Caution: Gymnema may lower blood-sugar levels too much and cause a harmful hypoglycemic reaction. Blood sugar levels should be checked more often when you are taking a treatment, and medical supervision is essential, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center.
Two additional supplements that show promising results but also have not been studied extensively:
- Prickly Pear Cactus
Have You considered any supplements to help stabilize blood sugar?