Supplements for diabetes
POMONA, CALIFORNIA. Diabetes has afflicted mankind for at least 3500 years and during that time many
remedies have been used in traditional systems of medicine for keeping blood sugar under control.
American pharmacists from the University of California and the Western University of Health Sciences have
just completed a fascinating study of over 30 natural products traditionally used by diabetics. Following an
extensive review of published literature they conclude the following:
- Foods high in soluble fiber (nopal, fenugreek, aloe, flaxseed and psyllium) reduce postprandial
(after meal) glucose concentrations.
- Nopal or prickly pear cactus (Optunia fuliginosa) is widely used in Mexico and has been
found highly effective in keeping glucose levels under control.
- Fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenumgraecum) is widely used in Mediterranean countries
and works in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.
- Karela or bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is the most popular plant used worldwide to
treat diabetes. Karela is usually taken as a fresh juice (2-4 ounces daily) or in the form of a 4:1
tincture (1-3 ml twice daily).
- Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre) is native to central and southern India and has been
used to treat diabetes for more than 2500 years. It is usually taken in the form of an extract of
gymnema leaves known as GS4. GS4 (400 mg/day) has been found highly effective in controlling
glucose levels in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.
- Other products that have been found useful for glucose control include ginseng (Panax
quinquefolius), chromium picolinate (up to 1000 micrograms/day) and alpha-lipoic acid (600-
1800 mg daily in divided doses).
The pharmacists caution against the use of any of these products when hypoglycemia is present or
Shapiro, Karen and Gong, William C. Natural products used for diabetes. Journal of the American
Pharmaceutical Association, Vol. 42, March/April 2002, pp. 217-26