If your doctor has ever told you that your blood sugar is a bit high — or that you’re in the prediabetes “danger zone” — you’re going to want to take every precaution possible to get back on track. Especially since full-blown diabetes can complicate and endanger your health in many serious ways.
Of course, dietary changes and a commitment to exercise are two go-to recommendations your doctor has already suggested. Aside from that, what else can you do to get your blood sugar back on track?
Unless you see a naturopathic doctor, it’s highly unlikely that your doctor will suggest you take these safe, proven herbal supplements to help resolve your diabetic issues. But today, I’m going to spill the beans on the all-natural, cost-effective steps you can take to prevent a lifetime chronic disease.
Seeking the ideal body balance
I’ll start by talking about a popular blood sugar regulating adaptogen called Sutherlandia frutescens.
And what — you might ask — is an adaptogen?
The answer is in the first five letters: “adapt.” Adaptogens are a unique grouping of herbs that adapt their function to your body’s needs. For example, if you’re overheated, adaptogens cool you off. If you’re fatigued, they stimulate your energy stores.
Adaptogens also boost your immune system to defend against all kinds of stressors — both physical and emotional — in an effort to help your body achieve the state of balance known as homeostasis.
Only a handful of herbs qualify as adaptogens. These include herbal staples like ashwagandha, ginseng, and Sutherlandia — which have been used by healers all over the world for centuries.
In Dr. Marc Micozzi’s Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes, he refers to adaptogens as “Mother Nature’s secret weapon” for achieving optimal health. And he adds, “Sutherlandia is, by far, one of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made in my years of researching medical anthropology.”
And while Sutherlandia has traditionally been used for boosting immune support and calming stress, depression, and anxiety, recent animal studies have also demonstrated its ability to:
- Normalize insulin levels
- Regulate glucose uptake in muscles
- Suppress glucose uptake in the intestines
To obtain these therapeutic benefits, Dr. Micozzi recommends 400 to 500 mg of Sutherlandia frutescens daily.
Clear reductions in diabetes risk
In addition to Sutherlandia, Dr. Micozzi highlights several other diabetes-taming herbal supplements he considers the “most promising” for anyone who needs to get their blood sugar in line.
Dr. Micozzi points out that berberine is quickly becoming one of the new “darlings” of the nutritional medicine world. “And the buzz,” he says, “has focused largely on this herbal remedy’s ability to balance blood sugar and combat diabetes. I know it’s also a blockbuster for brain health.”
Based on the most recent research, Dr. Micozzi recommends 400 to 500 milligrams of berberine daily.
Next up: fenugreek seeds. In a placebo-controlled clinical trial with 66 prediabetic adults, those who used fenugreek had lower post-meal blood sugar, lower fasting blood sugar, and significantly higher insulin levels compared to placebo. And during follow-up, those in the placebo group were four times more likely to develop diabetes compared to participants in the fenugreek group.
Dr. Micozzi notes that fenugreek seeds have been proven to help stimulate insulin in the presence of high glucose levels. In a recent review of fenugreek studies, researchers concluded that the herb promotes glycemic control in people with diabetes.
In Dr. Micozzi’s research, he’s found that 1,000 mg of fenugreek seed extract daily can help lower high blood sugar.
He also recommends Gymnema sylvestre, which translates to “destroyer of sugar” in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. Like fenugreek, gymnema extracts have been shown to reduce blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Dr. Micozzi’s recommends 400 mg, three times daily with meals.
Drive sugar out of the blood stream and into cells
Another favorite herbal of Dr. Micozzi’s is South African rooibos, also known as red bush or aspal. Dr. Micozzi is especially impressed with this herb’s ability to hydrate and positively affect blood sugar.
He explains, “Rooibos helps more sugar get into the cells, which creates more energy and consequently more water for cellular hydration.” And because rooibos also appears to reduce insulin resistance in muscle cells, he recommends 400 mg a day. Rooibos can also be enjoyed as tea.
Other herbals that Dr. Micozzi recommends for blood sugar control include:
- Aloe vera. When taken orally, it provides a number of beneficial effects for people with diabetes. In a recent study, it also helped obese people with early-stage diabetes or prediabetes lose weight and reduce insulin resistance.
- American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). This adaptogen can improve hyperglycemia and obesity associated with diabetes.
- Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). This herbal supplement can improve glucose tolerance, reduce serum insulin levels, and promote weight loss.
- Bilberry (huckleberry or Vaccinium myrtillus) is a fruit that closely resembles the blueberry and also contains potent antioxidants. It’s been shown to protect against damage to the eye’s retina — one of the most devastating side effects of diabetes. Animal studies have shown it also lowers blood sugar and improves insulin resistance.
Dr. Micozzi adds one caveat: Scientists have yet to come to an evidence-based consensus regarding the dosage for some of these herbals.
With that being said, his recommended course of action is that you work with a practitioner who’s skilled in nutritional medicine — someone who can track your responses to supplementation and adjust doses to fit your personal health needs.
You and your doctor can find more information about all of these and several additional herbal supplements that Dr. Micozzi recommends in his Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes.
“Anti-diabetic effects of Sutherlandia frutescens in Wistar rats fed a diabetogenic diet.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2006; 109(1): 121-127. DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2006.07.012
“Role of Fenugreek in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus in prediabetes” Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders 2015; 14: 74. doi: 10.1186/s40200-015-0208-4