Last week, I told you about aloe vera, one of my favorite herbal treatments for type-2 diabetes. I also showed you how the herb reversed a very stubborn case of diabetes in one of my patients.

Well, this week, I'd like to tell you about two other herbs I've found extremely useful in treating this disease.

The first is cinnamon, which is one of the most researched herbs in diabetes treatment. Many companies are trying to process cinnamon into a drug they can patent. But you don't need to wait for a drug. The cinnamon you buy at your grocery story has everything you need. In fact, it can do something remarkable.

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In diabetes, fat cells lose their ability to respond to insulin. Cinnamon revives the ability of these fat cells to respond to insulin. It also increases your body's ability to remove glucose.

Researchers proved this in a randomized trial with 60 type-2 diabetes patients. They divided the participants into four groups. Then they gave each group one, three, or six grams of cinnamon four times daily. And the fourth group received a placebo. All of the cinnamon groups experienced a dramatic fall in fasting blood glucose levels. Their blood glucose levels fell from 205-234 to 157-169. The placebo group didn't see any change.

Moreover, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol also dropped in the cinnamon groups. Dr. Shane McWhorter, a certified diabetes educator at University of Utah, says the data are so good that she recommends patients use one-half to one teaspoon of cinnamon per day on cereal or other foods. I agree. Feel free to eat as much cinnamon as you like.

Next is Gymnema sylvestre. Gymnema is an herb from India. It's name mean's "sugar destroyer" and that's exactly what it does. Regular blood tests show this herb can work wonders with glucose levels.

If you're diabetic, you know that a test called hemoglobin A1c is a measure of your average blood sugar level over several weeks. Lower levels indicate better blood sugar control. High levels mean long-term damage to your body.

A recent study showed the herb works well even in type-1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes). In the study, researchers gave 400 mg per day of the herb to each participant. They saw the participants hemoglobin A1c decrease from 12.8% to 8.2% in 26-30 months.

That's unheard of! According to most doctors, the only treatment that works for type-1 diabetes is insulin. This study also found that the Gymnema extract reduced insulin requirements by about 50%. In type-2 diabetics, it dropped from 11.9% to 8.5% at 20 months. Each of the 27 type-1 patients in the study was able to reduce their insulin dose by an average of 15 units. Five of 22 type-2 diabetics were able to discontinue their oral drugs.

There is one caution with this herbal extract: If you're on oral diabetic drugs, Gymnema is so effective your drug dosage will likely need to be adjusted. So make sure you're seeing an integrative physician while taking it. You can find Gymnema in most health food stores.

Both of these herbs, along with aloe vera, can make a dramatic difference in your diabetes treatment. Of course, the best way to treat diabetes is to change your diet. Remember to eliminate all refined carbs. If your diet is more than 10% fat, your body's ability to use insulin is far less effective. And that's not good if you have diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

Exercise is also extremely important, as it helps your body burn carbs more effectively. It will even help you lose weight. In most overweight people, it has been found that a weight loss of 10 pounds can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58%.

Family Practice News, September 15, 2005.

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