Monday, September 10, 2007

Herbs and Vitamins for Diabetes

Herbs and Vitamins for Diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by higher than normal blood sugar or blood glucose levels in the body. While a certain amount of glucose is necessary for proper cell nutrition, abnormally high glucose levels can be harmful to your health and can lead to serious complications.

Glucose needed for proper cell metabolism is found in the food we eat and is also produced by the liver and muscles. However, without the aid of insulin produced by the pancreas, glucose is not able to enter the cells. Consequently, if insulin levels are too low or the insulin doesn't work properly, glucose is not able to enter the cells, remains in the blood, and increases blood levels of glucose that lead to diabetes.

There are three primary types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is commonly diagnosed in adolescents, teenagers, or young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to make insulin because the body's immune system has attacked and destroyed the pancreas cell responsible for insulin production. Traditional treatments for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin shots or using an insulin pump, making dietary changes, exercise, taking aspirin daily, and strictly controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is by far the most common form of diabetes in the world. People can develop type 2 diabetes at any time during their life even during early childhood. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin and the fat, muscle, or liver cells do not use it properly. Obesity can drastically increase the probability of developing type 2 diabetes. Traditional treatments for type 2 diabetes include using doctor prescribed diabetes medications, dietary changes, regular exercise, taking aspirin daily, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

Gestational Diabetes

While not as common as type 1 or type 2, gestational diabetes can develop during the late stages of pregnancy. Although this form of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, a woman who has had gestational diabetes is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes is caused by the increased hormone levels during pregnancy or from a shortage of insulin in the body during pregnancy.

People with diabetes have a high risk of contracting a number of ancillary health conditions including heart disease and atherosclerosis. In addition, those with diabetes have a higher mortality rate if they also have high homocysteine levels.

Vitamin supplements that may help diabetics

Alpha lipoic acid (improve insulin sensitivity and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy)

Brewer's yeast (providing approximately 60 mcg of chromium per tablespoon)

Chromium (improve glucose tolerance in type 1 and 2 diabetes

Evening primrose oil (improve nerve function and relieve pain of diabetic neuropathy)

Fiber (may control blood sugar levels as well as oral diabetes drugs)

Glucomannan (absorption of dietary sugar)

Magnesium (for magnesium deficiency)

Other vitamin supplements with possible effects.

Multivitamin and Mineral Supplements (reduce the risk of infection if used regularly)

Vitamin E (may improve glucose tolerance)

Vitamin B6 (improve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy)

Vitamin B12 (reduces nerve damage caused by diabetes)

Vitamin B1 (may help reduce blood sugar levels)

Biotin (needed to process glucose)

Coenzyme Q10 (protect against effects of diabetes-induced depletion)

L-carnitine (reduces cholesterol and triglycerides)

Niacinamide (useful in the very early stages of type 1 diabetes)

Zinc (lower blood sugar in type 1 diabetes)

Vitamin D (needed to maintain adequate blood levels of insulin)

Inositol (needed for normal nerve function)

Taurine (restore blood taurine to normal levels in type 1 diabetes)

Fish oil (improves glucose tolerance, high triglycerides, and cholesterol levels)

Manganese (for manganese deficiency)

Herbal supplements that may help diabetics

Cayenne (topical application can relieve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy)

Psyllium (improve control of blood glucose and cholesterol)


Other herbs with possible effects.

Asian/Korean ginseng (improve blood sugar control and energy type 2 diabetes)

Gymnema (stimulate production of insulin in people with type 2 diabetes)

Aloe vera (reduce the amount of drug glibenclamide required to manage blood sugar)

Bitter melon (improve blood-sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes)

Bilberry (lower risk of some diabetic complications - cataracts and retinopathy)