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Ask the Herbalist - Diabetes/High Blood Sugar

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ANSWERS FROM CARLOS: 
 

QUESTION: This is my question. It is about type two diabetes.  For some reason I have violent side effects to all type two pills.  I vomiting and canít even keep down water so my doc put me on Levimer. The funny thing was before Levemer my aic was a 6 after it has been a 8 and 9 now.  Since I moved to a new state my insurance will not pay for it and wants me on Lantus.  Problem is it turns off your immune system making you susceptible to all kinds of cancer and thousands of people have gotten it taking that med, so Iím not taking it now.  Yes, I was on insulin but only due to me not being able to take the pills.  Since I have not had it, Iím running about 170 to 200.  Could you please give me a idea on what will help me get it back to normal? I was not that high before I took the Levemer. My a1c at 9 would make 240 the average on the med. Thanks and I am so glad someone is there to help

ANSWER: There are several herbs that have proven themselves to be of good use in controlling blood sugar levels.

As I am sure your physician already has explained you must eliminate all sweets, but I would also encourage you to eliminate beets and carrots also, and eat more pasta, bread, and more fiber products, these help in establishing proper blood sugar levels. Try and consume more complex carbohydrates and foods, they lower blood sugar because they are slow to digest.

There is an association with obesity and diabetes, so if you are overweight I most certainly recommend a daily, low level exercise program such as QiGong or Yoga. Your local library will have books and videos on these to help get you started.

You may also want to include Brewer's yeast in your diet, it helps in normalizing the metabolism due to the chromium content.

The following herbs will all prove beneficial. Fenugreek seed tea as well as Alfalfa will aid in controlling blood sugar levels.  An extract of Gentian, 10 drops once daily, has often also been used with some success.

In Ayurvedic medical science, if you are insulin dependent, we often use 2 capsules of turmeric, 3 times a day.

In Chinese medicine one herb that is used very often, and I certainly recommend it, is cornsilk tea, it is a moisturizing, cooling herb and helps lower blood sugar; two other herbs used in Chinese medicine are Lotus seed and Chinese yam, you may be able to find these at your local herb store, and drink as infusion often. The herb, Goat's rue, can also help the late on-set of diabetes, you may want to explore this possibility, research has shown that it can be effective.

So I would suggest to you drinking infusions (teas) of Cornsilk and adding to these 10-15 drops extract or tincture of Gentian. Drink 3xs day. In the alternative drink Fenugreek seed tea 3xs day.

Eliminate foods that stagnate the sytem such as: Red meats, pork, white sugar, all dairy and all fried foods.

To stabilize blood sugar I recommend you include Holy Basil into your dishes. Very importantly, onion and in particular garlic can reduce blood sugar levels.incorporate into your diet daily.

If overweight, remember that unless you start living healthy, the disease is going to make you wish you had.

QUESTION: I am a diabetic who has a very very anti immune system problem.  So far I have been working with Dr Jessica Riechert of Parker Colorado. Unfortunately after 4 months I am still very high on my blood sugar readings - 350 average and Dr Riechert has run out of ideas in regards to herbs to help my reduce my blood sugar readings.  Can you recommend anyone in the Denver/Littleton area that I could meet with or talk to, to determine if there is another direction I should consider.

ANSWER: You fail to mention any meds that you may be on and other alternatives remedies or formulas that you may have tried.  First, allow me to explain that the key element with alternative medicines is consistency. You must take the remedies as indicated and when indicated, in other words you need always to follow your practitioner's course of action in dealing with the illness.   

Having said that let us begin by stating that without a proper diet, controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol is impossible.
We encourage you to eliminate from your diet: Pork, red meats, white sugar, all dairy (except yogurt), wheat, sodas, chips, white bread, white rice, alcohol, excess coffee, cigarrettes, salt, eliminate all fried greasy and oily foods and all foods with additives and/or preservatives.

Enhance your diet with: Lean fish, salmon, oysters, mackerel, sardines, chicken, turkey, cornish hen, brewer's yeast, eat plenty of fresh garlic, ginger root, onion, fenugreek, honey, brown rice, steamed fresh vegetables and fresh fruits.  There are several herbal infusions that may prove of help. since I do not know which ones you have tried I mention a few:  drink infusions of Green tea and add 120mg extract of Bilberry 3xs day. Sweeten sparingly only with honey. As well, decoctions of Holy Basil or infusions of Goat's rue may also prove of help. Drink often and sweeten lightly with honey.

Other infusions that have proven valuable are infusions of Psyllium, Bilberry and Lycium fruit in equal parts, and adding 15 drops extract of Astragalus and 15 drops extract of white Chinese ginseng. Sweeten only with honey and drink 3xs day.  Ginseng is reported to reduce the dosage of insulin needed by patients and to prolong the action of a dose of insulin.   

In TCM, Rehmannia Eight Formula (Achyranthes and Plantago Formula), may contribute to lowering blood sugar and aiding insulin regulation.  To improve glucose tolerance you should take one tablespoon of Omega3-fatty acids daily, take 500mg Vit. C 3xs day, 50mg Zinc 1x day and include Brewer's yeast in her diet at least once a day. This last, is rich in Chromium and Chromium has been shown to improve glucose and related variables in people with glucose intolerance and type 1, type 2, gestational, and steroid-induced diabetes.  

Drinking a small shot of apple vinegar 2xs day diluted in water will help regulate blood sugar level. Vinegar is found to have powers to inactivate certain digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates present in food into sugar. Thus vinegar ultimately results in the decreased pace of sugar absorption from the food into the blood. Slowing down of sugar absorption gives the insulin-resistant body more time to extract sugar out of the blood. Thus blood sugar level is prevented from rising so high. 

Adopt a low-level regimen of exercise such as Yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Fifteen minutes a day will do wonders!  I hope this helps. You may want us to do an evaluation for you and in that manner we can doan individualized treatment plan for you, if interested you may go to: http://tcmconsultants.org or write me directly at: clinician@doctor.com

In Denver we can suggest: Carol LeCroy, Dipl.Ac, C.M.T. 303-832-5279, or Christine Harrison, Dipl.Ac. 303-584-9714, or Kathy Fisher, O.M.D. 303-388-4222.

QUESTION: I need some kind of herb for high sugar can you help

ANSWER: There are several herbs and herbal combinations that will prove of great help.  I would first suggest that to an infusion of Green Tea you add 10 drops of  Momordica extract (Bitter melon), and 5 drops of extract of Burdock. Sweeten with Stevia (Stevia is a sugar substitute, use no other) and drink 3xs day.  Other herbs that may be of use are Dandelion, Fenugreek, Kudzu and Gymnema sylvestre (Gurmar). A good formula is made by Nature's Herbs called, SugarReg.

Eat plenty of fresh onions and garlic daily. at least one clove of garlic per day.  Exercise and weight loss be also be of great help.  Eliminate foods that stagnate the system: Red meats, pork, white sugar, all dairy and all fried foods.

I certainly hope this helps.

ANSWERS FROM AMANDA:
QUESTION
: I have a friend that takes BP & Diabetes meds, then takes others for side effects of those meds.  Only eats Fish & chicken and vegs.  Is there a naturalist and/or herbalist that he can speak to in Atl GA to get this in line.  We googled the meds that he takes and it is awful.  I learned of natural eating from Dr. Heinermans books many years ago.  But he would need a regimen to stay focused.  FYI- he goes to the hosp about every 6 weeks.  Not over weight or anything like that.  just needs help.

ANSWER: I am sorry the state of medicine has your friend taking medicines that require other medicines for side effects. He is going to the hospital every six weeks or so, and since I don't know which medicines, what triggers the need for a hospital visit, or if your friend is interested in changing diet and exercise (the two most effective and safe interventions for both high blood pressure and type two diabetes), it is not responsible for me to advise an herb other than Dandelion leaf (nourishing diuretic tea) and Cinnamon bark (studied for its blood sugar benefits), dose dependent on his weight and physician monitoring, I recommend he find a nutritionist, Naturopathic doctor, Nurse Practitioner, or experienced herbalist in his neighborhood for an assessment and a plan.  Good luck, and keep inspiring him to eat as well as you do.

QUESTION: A friend from work uses Herbal products, and today I was looking at HerbNet and would like to see what you would recommend for Type 2 diabetes.  Iím tired of making appointment to see my Dr. and the medicine from him is doing the same as the Sugar Controller Herb Tea from Health King, Cinnamon capsules, Chameleon Tea that Iím using right now. Yes my weakness is desserts. I have used peals to control the craves but no work. When I take care of myself it seems like the opposite happens I do not know why? And then I get discourage and eat what I want.  Any advice is taken into consideration, home remedies or even scoldings

ANSWER: I am not going to scold you. You can do that for yourself. Please do not stop seeing your doctor all of a sudden. While you say your tea is doing the same thing for you that conventional medicine is doing, your letter suggests your health is not entirely managed naturally yet. The two most effective interventions for Type 2 Diabetes according to much of the medical literature is a permanent change in the foods you regularly consume, increasing fiber from whole foods, vegetables, fruits, and some whole grains, while ensuring enough lean protein and healthy fats (seeds, nuts, avocados, cold water fish such as salmon, PLUS exercise and weight loss.   

There is an herb called gurmar in Sanskrit (Latin: Gymnema sylvestre), available as tablets or in other forms, which decreases cravings for sweets and helps reduce high blood sugar. Tell your doctor you are adding it to your daily routine and get monitored while you take back control of your health and your life. Then you can both agree on cutting down the number of appointments you need to keep making with your doctor.

ANSWERS FROM KAREN:
WEIGHT LOSS:
QUESTION: I’m a diabetic and am looking for something to control my diabetic and help
me to lose about 50-65 pound to.

ANSWER:
Diabetes is tricky. I would speak to your medical healthcare professional. Are you on insulin? Have you been diagnosed with diabetes? What has your doctor suggested?
 
There are several herbs that are helpful in your situation, but my advice is to consult with your doctor before starting any alternative treatment, especially if you are on insulin.

ANSWERS FROM DAVID:
GYMNEMA SYLVESTRE
QUESTION:
  is this good for number 2 diabetics?

ANSWER: Yes this herb is known as the Sugar Eater or Sugar Destroyer in the India herbal medicine, known as Ayurveda. It is also a diuretic, astringent and used for fevers and colds in India.

 
DIABETIC NEUROPATHY
QUESTION: 
I have diabetic neuropathy and have for 5 years.  I have the burning in the legs and feet and hips associated with some pain, als.  I am wondering if you could tell me of some herbs that may help this, or
someone else that could.  I've asked my physician, but he's not that familiar with neuropathy.  Any information you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:  your issue may be beyond this forum's ability to help; find a local herbalist or holistic doctor, if you already have the neuropathy then much of the damage is done, seek medical advice from a doctor who has seen this condition.

But I will make some suggestions.

Is your sugar under control (you should be checking it several times a day, you do not say if you are a Type I or II diabetic), do you exercise everyday, walking is the best I strive for 1 hour a day.  Go see a doctor that specializes in Diabetes, consult with a nutritional consultant on diet and supplements.

If I were suffering from this I would use Ginkgo, Saint Johnswort and Fresh Oat tops as an alcohol extract taken five mils (this is a suggested dose, dosage depends on body size and many other factors), 3 times a day.  I would also use a capsicum cream and Saint Johnswort oil externally rubbed into the affected areas.

In the supplement area, I would use, Chromium Picolonate, Vanadium and CoQ10.


SUGAR LEVELS
QUESTION: 
What can I use to drop the sugar level in my blood?

ANSWER:  Herbs which have been used for diabetes included:

1. Codonopsis, Latin Named Codonopsis tangshen, C. Pilosula
2. Astragalus, Latin Named Astragalus membranaceus
3. Chinese Ginseng, Latin Named Panax Ginseng
4. Chinese Yam, Latin Named Dioscorea spp., D. opposita, D. batatas
5. Fenugreek, Latin Named Trigonella foenum-graecum
6. Gymnema, Gumar (Means “sugar destroyer” in Hindi), Sharduku, Latin Named Gymnema sylvestri
7. Jambol Seed, Latin Named Eugenia jambolana or Syzygium jambolana
8. Devil's Club, Latin Named Oplopanax horridum
9. Burdock Root, Latin Named Arctium lappa
10. Bitter herbs help to lower sugar cravings, such as Dandelion, Gention, Artichoke, etc, see other write up on bitter herbs online.
11. The medicinal mushrooms have also shown some activity against diabetes: examples include Maitake and Ganoderma (Reishi)

Non herbs used include Chromium (200-1000 mcg per day)
Essential fatty acids, mostly omega 3's
Zinc 20-50 mg day
CoQ10 200-400 mg per day


Food Sources for Some Nutrients Commonly Deficient in Diabetics

Nutrient Food Sources

Vitamin A liver, cod liver oil
Vitamin B1 beans, brown rice, egg yolks, meat, fish, nuts, asparagus, broccoli, oats
Vitamin B2 beans, cheese, eggs, fish, poultry, spinach, yogurt
Vitamin B6 brewer's yeast, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, walnuts, wheat germ
Vitamin B12 only found in animal products: blue cheese, cheese, clams, eggs, herring, kidney, liver, mackerel, and all other animal products.
Biotin cooked egg yolk, salt-water fish, meat, milk, poultry, soybeans, whole grains, yeast (avoid raw egg whites as they may cause a deficiency)
Vitamin C citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemons), strawberries, mangos, papayas, pineapple, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables (spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens)
Vitamin E cold-pressed vegetable oils, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, eggs, wheat germ, liver
CoQ10 mackerel, salmon, sardines, meat, beef or chicken heart
Chromium brewer's yeast, brown rice, cheese, mushrooms, corn, chicken, dried beans
Magnesium green leafy vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, fish, tofu, brown rice, millet, apples, apricots, bananas, meat
Manganese blueberries, avocados, nuts, seeds, seaweed, whole grains, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables
Phosphorus deficiency rare as it is found in most foods including soda pop, meat, food additives, brewer's yeast, corn, dairy products, eggs
Potassium winter squash, bananas, potatoes, fish, apricots, avocados, blackstrap molasses, brewer's yeast, dried fruit, yams
Zinc oysters, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, egg yolks, fish, meat, poultry, liver, lima beans


DIABETES COMPLICATIONS
QUESTION:
could you please tell me where to look for info on diabetes/vision herbs.
My 76 year old Father has lost his central vision to diabetes...is there any 
help with herbs that he could regain at least partial vision with 
herbs/natural helps?

ANSWER: Ginkgo is a circulation herb, excellent for microcirculation, Hawthorn is excellent for heart and circulation support the flavonoids stabilize blood vessels. I would use a Tincture of each. The Hawthorn can also be purchased in a solid extract. Bilberry or Blueberry fruit is specific to healthy eyes and circulation to them. Use fresh berries, 1/4 cup a day would be enough or try the solid extract. He could spread it on toast or simply eat a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon a day. 

Up Vitamin C and get him on antioxidants and a OPC complex. All three would come as a separate pill.

JUVENILE DIABETES
QUESTION:
Hello; If you could e-mail any information of herbs for juvenile diabetes, i would 
appreciate it. This info. is for a 6 yr. old girl. Her father is a doctor, and his
daughter is of course on insulin. They try to watch her diet closely but being
a child, she wants, sometimes what her friends have, like a cookie etc. once
in awhile. He is willing to read any information I may find for him. I am, myself
a nurse and studying to become an herbalist. At this time I am meeting, as
you can imagine with skepticism. Thank-you.

ANSWER: Plant Name: Maitake (Hen of the Wood's), Latin Name: Grifola frondulosa, Lentinula elodes is used for stabilizing blood sugar levels it is a food plant and the only know contraindications I have is mushroom allergies since it is a mushroom. The other thing it is good at is to normalize immune function, it is a Immune Amphoteric.

Plant Name Reishi mushrooms, Latin Name: Ganoderma lucidum(Red-best- on oaks), G. sinensis(black), G applinatum (huge artist conch), G. Tsugae(grows on hemlock tree), G. oreganensis this herb has same effects as above and same contraindications as a mushroom. It stabilizes mast cells and affects autoimmune disease additionally.

It is fairly easy to get these into the child in the form of mushroom soup broths and as the basis for vegetable soups or as a tincture form.

To prevent some of the long term effects of diabetes, such as reduced circulation to peripherals, kidney and eye problems and neuropathies I would employ other herbs.

Ginkgo, is great for circulation especially peripheral and cerebral.
Bilberry/Blueberry is specific to eye health.
Nettles leaf is good for kidneys and Nettles seed can help improve function to a already weakened kidney organ.
Hawthorn is food for the heart and helps maintain vascular integrity.
Milk Thistle is great for damage to the liver.

Finally to reduce cravings for sugars a balanced bitter formula is good for this. It should be taken 3 times a day just before meals. Look for one that has both warming and cooling bitters, such as Angelica (warming), Gentian (cooling), Dandelion Leaf (cooling), Orange Peel (warming), Artichoke (cooling). Look for a carminative in the formula such as peppermint or ginger to settle and aid in digestion, but no laxatives (such as Senna, Butternut or White Walnut, Culvers Root and Rhubarb) such as in the Swedish Bitters on the market today. Angustora bitters used in Manhattans is only Gentian a cooling bitter. Bitters also help balance blood sugars. Bitters are hard to get into a child because you have to taste them to gain the effect, but many children are adaptable.

Tell him to find the Herbal PDR, published by the same company as the PDR. Not everything in it will be supported by all herbalists but it will be a good starting reference point for a scientific based philosphy to medicine such as he was trained in. Make sure he gets the second edition not the first there were changes and additions to it.

Other herbs that are getting recent press about diabetes are: Prickly Pear Cactus, Fenugreek, Devil's club and Jambol seed but not all of these are appropriate for type 1 diabetes, i.e. juvenile diabetes, IDDM