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Herbs to treat Diabetes- Part-I

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Diabetes has become a global problem in spite of advances in modern science. The WHO projects that diabetes deaths will double between 2005 and 2030. India has been projected by WHO as the country with the fastest growing population of Diabetic patients. The latest global figures on diabetes, released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), has raised a serious alarm for India by saying that nearly 52% of Indians are not even aware that they are suffering from high blood sugar. India is presently home to 62 million diabetics - an increase of nearly 2 million in just one year. India is second only to China which is home to 92.3 million diabetics. By 2030, India’s diabetes numbers are expected to cross the 100 million mark. It is estimated that between 1995 to 2025 diabetic patients in India will increase by 195%.

Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger). People with diabetes, deal with health problems every single day. If diabetes is poorly controlled or left untreated, it may lead to blindness, kidney disease, blood vessel damage, infection, heart disease, nerve damage, high blood pressure, stroke, limb amputation, and coma.

Synthetic drugs like sulphonylureas, biguanidine, acarbose and insulin are widely used in allopathic treatment of Diabetes. However, diabetes is termed as ‘Silent killer’ and recently evidence of cases of “Insulin resistance” and the occurrence of side effects from prolonged administration of conventional drugs have triggered the search for safe and effective alternatives.

The treatment of Diabetes recommended in Ayurveda, as against modern medicine, is aimed at rejuvenating the body to not only balance sugar levels, but also foster a positive change in the patient’s life. Ayurvedic medicines work on the root cause of the disease strengthening the patient’s immunity and helping him/her lead an overall healthy life. There are several herbs which are found to be very effective in treating diabetes and lowering blood sugar level. The greatest advantages of these herbal diabetes medicine supplements are that they have no side effects.

Diabetes with constipation: Powders like Gandharva haritaki, Isabgol, Panchaskar, Hingvastak can be used to relieve constipation.

Diabetes with excessive thirst: Excessive thirst may be managed with the use of cold infusions (heema) of Dahayanak, usheera, Chandan etc. Praval, Guduchi, may also be used.

Diabetes with excessive urination: excessive urination can be treated with the use of Trivang bhasma, jasad bhasma, etc

Generalised weakness and fatigue are the usual symptoms that can be treated with the use of herbs like Shatavari, Ashvagandha, Bala Yastimadhu. Complications like tapyadi loha, Vasant kusumakar rasa are also very effective. Impotency is a very distressing symptom of a diabetic patient. By assessing the age of the patient they may be advised Ashwagandha, Kaucha beeja, musali etc. Kirat tikata (Chirayata) A decoction of this plant is to be taken daily early morning. It is a very popular remedy used in all parts of the country for various skin disorders and hence forms a perfect remedy for skin infections in Diabetics.

Eating a diet rich in fibre helps the body to absorb sugars slowly, which in turn keeps blood sugar levels balanced. Soluble type of fibre does the best job of stabilizing blood sugar level. Apples, apricots, beets, berries, carrots, citrus fruits, parsnips, and winter squash are some fruits and vegetables which are rich in soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is also helpful in lowering elevated LDL cholesterol levels, a serious problem in many people with diabetes. Diet which is a combination of vegetables and fruits get a rich array of antioxidants such as Vitamin C. Antioxidants prevents the oxidation and damage of artery walls, which otherwise can lead to plaque buildup and heart disease.

Green Tea: This tea is unfermented and hence has high polyphenol content, which has strong antioxidant and hypoglycaemic effects. The polyphenols help in a controlled release of blood




Botanical Source- It is the edible fruit (bitter melon or bitter gourd) obtained from a vine Momordia charantia (Family: Cucurbitaceae).

Chemical Constituents- It is also rich in vitamins A and C, beta carotene, as well as the minerals phosphorous, iron and potassium.

Therapeutic Actions/Effects-

Effects on Diabetes (Blood sugar):

• The fruit contains at least three active substances with anti-diabetic properties, including charantin, which has been confirmed to have a blood glucose-lowering effect, vicine and an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p. These substances either work individually or together to help reduce blood sugar levels.

• It contains a lectin that reduces blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and suppressing appetite - similar to the effects of insulin in the brain. This lectin is thought to be a major factor behind the hypoglycemic effect that develops after eating bitter melon.

• A 2000 mg daily dose of bitter melon significantly reduced blood glucose levels among patients with type 2 diabetes, although the hypoglycemic effect was less than a 1000 mg/day dose of metformin. Bitter melon intake improved glycemic control, increased cellular uptake of glucose and improved glucose tolerance.

Other Effects:

Karela fruit and seeds have been shown to reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride

levels, and is also an hepatoprotective.


Botanical Source- They are the seeds of the plant Trigonella foenum- graecum (Family: Fabaceae).

Chemical Constituents- Methi contains protein, fibre, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, iron and alkaloids. It also contains a compound diosgenin which has oestrogen-like properties, as well as steroidal saponins.

Therapeutic Actions/Effects-

Effects on Diabetes (Blood sugar):

• Fenugreek seeds improve glycemic control and decreases insulin resistance in mild type-2 diabetic patients. There is also a favourable effect on hypertriglyceridemia.

• Galactomannan, a natural soluble fibre present in fenugreek slows down the rate of sugar absorption into blood. Fenugreek also contains amino acid responsible for inducing the production of insulin.

• 4-hydroxyleucine, a novel amino acid from fenugreek seeds increased glucose stimulated insulin release by isolated islet cells in both rats and humans.

• Administration of fenugreek seeds also improved glucose metabolism and normalized creatinine kinase activity in heart, skeletal muscle and liver of diabetic rats.

Other Effects:

• It is effective in reducing body weight. The natural soluble fibre in the fenugreek swells and fills the stomach thereby suppressing appetite. It flushes out the toxins, burns the body fats and improves digestion.

• It helps to reduce cholesterol level and has cardiovascular benefits. It lowers the risk of heart attack. It is also an excellent source of potassium which counters the action of sodium to help control heart rate and blood pressure.


Botanical Source- It consists of the bark of the tree Pterocarpus marsupium (Family: Leguminosae) commonly called as Indian Kino Tree.

Chemical Constituents- It is a rich source of Pterosupin, Pterostilbene, Marsupsin and (-) Epicatechin which are identified as blood sugar lowering compounds.

Therapeutic Actions/Effects-

Effects on Diabetes (Blood sugar):

• (−) Epicatechin, its active principle, has been found to be insulinogenic, enhancing insulin release and conversion of proinsulin to insulin in vitro. Additionally it has an insulin-mimetic effect on osmotic fragility of human erythrocytes and it inhibits Na/K ATPase activity from patient’s erythrocytes. It corrects the neuropathy, retinopathy and disturbed metabolism of glucose and lipids. It maintains the integrity of all organ systems affected by the disease and is thus known to prevent diabetic complications. It is reported to be a curative for diabetes, Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) and a good adjuvant for Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM), in order to reduce the amount of needed insulin. It is advised along with existing oral hypoglycemic drugs. It has gentle hypoglycemic activity and hence induces no risk of being hypoglycemic.

• It helps prevent pancreatic alpha cell damage and even help regenerate the beta cells. The gum resin of P. marsupium is the only herbal product ever found to regenerate beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. P. marsupium is also available in powder form which is made from the bark of the tree.

• The dried aqueous decoction of heart wood is used as an astringent and in the treatment of inflammation and diabetes. The bark and heartwood of the tree has been used historically in the treatment of diabetes.

• Modulation of cytokine TNF-α by the rasayana drug P. marsupium is related with its potential anti-diabetic activity.

Other Effects:

• It rejuvenates each and every cell of the body.

• It purifies the blood and removes all toxins from it.

• It is very useful in diseases which originate from external causes like infection, worm infestation etc.

• In a chronic model of diabetes, during the 115 day study period, Pterocarpus marsupium extract was shown to slow the development, progression and severity of cataract, a common complication of chronic diabetes.

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