One of the human body’s most important forms of homeostasis, or natural balance, is the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood. The body naturally regulates the amount of sugar in your blood at any given time, but sometimes other problems can lead to blood sugar that’s too high or too low. Natural solutions and herbal remedies for blood sugar support can help you prevent or manage type II diabetes, avoid low blood sugar, and improve your overall health.
Glucose is a monosaccharide, or simple sugar, that functions as the primary source of energy for cells in the body. The bloodstream transports glucose from the intestines and liver to the rest of the body, where a molecule called insulin, produced by the pancreas, makes the glucose available for cellular absorption. Natural remedies for blood sugar support help keep glucose levels in a normal range.
Glucose levels are low at the beginning of the day, before any food intake. Imbalances in this fasting glucose level can indicate a medical problem such as diabetes mellitus. The normal blood sugar range in a healthy adult is generally 4.4-6.1 mmol/liter, and fluctuates throughout the day.
Many natural remedies and herbal teas for blood sugar support can help you keep glucose levels at a healthy, stable level, aiding the body’s natural balancing processes to keep you energized, alert, and in good health.
Causes of Blood Sugar Imbalance
Blood sugar regulation is crucial for the body to function at all, and the underlying processes are highly complex. Blood sugar levels are affected by two main types of metabolic hormones: catabolic hormones like glucagon and cortisol, which increase blood glucose; and anabolic hormones like insulin, which serve to decrease blood glucose.
If blood sugar is chronically too high or too low, it can lead to severe problems. High blood sugar is medically referred to as “hyperglycemia,” while low blood sugar is termed “hyperglycemia.” Both conditions are unhealthy and potentially dangerous, and natural solutions for blood sugar support can help prevent them.
High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)
High blood sugar is usually measured as a blood sugar level higher than 11.1 mmol/liter, meaning that there is too much glucose in the blood plasma. Serious symptoms are usually noticeable starting at around 15 mmol/liter, and chronic levels over 7 mmol/liter will eventually lead to organ damage.
When high blood sugar is temporary, such as following a large carb-heavy meal, it’s usually benign. However, severely high blood sugar can produce noticeable symptoms and discomfort, including:
- Polyphagia, a frequent and pronounced hunger despite having already eaten.
- Polydipsia, constant thirst and need to drink fluids.
- Polyuria, increased urination.
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Poor wound healing
- Dry mouth and skin
- Cardiac arrhythmia
Hyperglycemia is commonly associated with various forms of diabetes mellitus, but can result from a variety of medical causes, including:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Medication side effects
- Myocardial infection
- Endocrine disorders
- Pancreatic diseases
- Brain diseases
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is generally measured as blood sugar below 2.8 mmol/liter in healthy adults, or below 3.9 mmol/liter in people with diabetes. Hyperglycemic symptoms can cause shakiness, anxiety, nervousness, heart palpitations, nausea, headaches, and cognitive effects.
The most common cause of hypoglycemia is as a side effect of diabetes medications such as insulin, but it can also be caused by kidney diseases, tumors, infectious illnesses, or hormone imbalances.
Diabetes Type 1
Diabetes Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder, in which insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed. This leads to increased blood glucose, potentially leading to life-threatening complications.
The exact causes of diabetes type 1 are not fully understood, but antibody testing can distinguish it from type 2. It may result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In some cases, the onset can occur in childhood or adolescence, following an acute viral infection. Diabetes type 1 is generally treated with lifestyle factors and insulin therapy, but natural remedies for blood pressure support may help contribute to glucose regulation and balance.
Diabetes Type 2
Diabetes type 2, also known as adult onset diabetes, is a metabolic disorder resulting from insulin resistance. Unfortunately, an estimated 285 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes type 2– that’s about 6% of the global population. Diabetes type 2 is widespread and a serious public health concern, but it’s actually preventable.
Although factors like genetics and aging can influence susceptibility to diabetes type 2, many of its primary causes are controllable, like diet and obesity. Some of the primary risk factors for developing diabetes type 2 include:
- Obesity. Obesity is correlated with over 55% of cases of adult onset diabetes. Chronic obesity over many years will increase the body’s natural insulin resistance, largely due to chemical and hormonal signals produced by adipose tissue (fat).
- Poor diet. Along with actual obesity (excess adipose tissue), a poor diet high in simple carbs, refined sugars, and saturated fats can also contribute to diabetes. In particular, consumption of large amounts of sugared soft drinks has been linked to diabetes.
- Lack of exercise. Inactivity contributes to both obesity and diabetes type 2. Experts recommend moderate aerobic exercise on a regular basis.
Prediabetes is a precursor condition to diabetes type 2, in which not all symptoms are present yet, but blood sugar is still abnormally high. It’s characterized by elevated fasting glucose levels and increased insulin resistance. Ideally, prediabetic symptoms should be addressed with lifestyle and dietary changes, including weight loss and increased exercise, to prevent the onset of actual diabetes type 2. In many cases, people have successfully avoided the disease by adapting a healthier lifestyle.
Natural Solutions for Balancing Your Blood Sugar
Whether you’re dealing with diabetes type 1 or type 2, or trying to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent diabetes due to genetic predisposition, natural solutions for blood sugar support can help you stay healthy and avoid increased insulin resistance. When it comes to type 2 diabetes, the most important thing is to take preventive measures before it’s too late.
Preventing Diabetes & Blood Sugar Problems with a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet, and remaining at a healthy weight, are highly important to preventing yourself from ever developing diabetes type 2. By taking the right lifestyle measures, you can cut your chances of developing the disease in half, even if you have a strong family history of diabetes.
One of the best ways to prevent diabetes and blood sugar problems is to exercise regularly. You don’t have to be a star athlete, but regular moderate aerobic physical activity helps promote a healthy metabolism and keep your blood sugar levels stable.
It also helps to eat a diet with a low glycemic index. This includes lots of fiber and a relatively low dietary fat intake, composed almost entirely of unsaturated fats. Low GI diets can help stave off diabetes, heart problems, stroke, and other health risks. This may be because avoiding carb- and sugar-induced blood sugar spikes after heavy meals can prevent oxidative stress to the vascular system.
10 Herbal Remedies for Blood Sugar Support
Along with diet and lifestyle changes that promote a healthy glucose metabolism and stave off insulin resistance, these natural herbal remedies for blood sugar support can help you maintain your body’s natural glucose homeostasis.
Many herbs and plant extracts have been used for centuries in traditional medicine from around the world. Some of these have been shown to contain compounds that can help regulate blood sugar. Here are twelve of the best herbal remedies for natural blood sugar support.
Gymnema sylvestre is native to the tropical forests of southern India and Sri Lanka. In modern times, this plant has been explored for its natural chemical compounds, which may have medical applications.
Some of the chemicals in the plant, called saponins, can actually suppress the taste of sweetness in high-sugar foods, helping diabetics fend off cravings for sweets. Gymnema may also contribute to enzymatic processes that enable cells to use glucose efficiently.
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is a vine grown in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. The vine produces an edible fruit, which has a markedly bitter flavor. Bitter melon is cooked like a vegetable. In Chinese and Indian cuisine, its bitterness is used to offset other, sweeter flavors.
Along with its culinary uses, bitter melon also holds a prominent place in many Asian and African traditional cultures as a medicinal herb. In India, it’s traditionally used as a remedy for diabetes, stomach problems, and many other ailments.
Several animal studies have indicated that bitter melon may be useful as a natural remedy for blood sugar support. When consumed raw or in a juice or herbal tea preparation, bitter melon may help gently lower blood glucose levels.
Magnesium isn’t an herb, but an essential mineral that the body requires in minute amounts. Dietary magnesium plays many roles throughout the body, and an adequate magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Up to 80% of Americans may be mildly deficient in magnesium. Elevated glucose levels can lead to increased magnesium loss in urine, making it a helpful addition to herbal teas for blood pressure support.
Magnesium is present in many healthy foods, including spinach, pumpkin seeds, fish, soy beans, brown rice, and avocados. A diet rich in natural sources of magnesium may help prevent diabetes.
Prickly Pear Cactus
The prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) produces a spiny fruit which, when peeled, is often eaten or used in salads, soups, and other cooked foods. Consuming prickly pear fruit or juice may help lower blood sugar, possibly via natural compounds that mimic insulin in the body.
Evening Primrose Oil
Essential oils from the evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) has been investigated for a variety of positive health effects, including as an herbal remedy for blood pressure support. Evening primrose oil contains a compound called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid. People with diabetes or blood sugar problems may have lower levels of GLA, making evening primrose oil a helpful supplement.
Chromium deficiency may be associated with glucose tolerance, and in preliminary studies with rodents, chromium was found to produce an effect similar to insulin. Scientists are still unsure about chromium’s role as a trace element in humans, but it may be biologically active in some oligosaccharides.
Biberries (Vaccinium myrillus) is a European plant that produces edible berries, which are similar in appearance to blueberries. Bilberries contain anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that can help prevent damage to nerves and capillaries.
Many people with diabetes and other blood sugar problems experience diabetic neuropathy in their extremities, most commonly the feet, making bilberry’s effects potentially useful. A few preliminary animal studies have also suggested that it may help lower blood sugar.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant in the Fabaceae (bean) family, which is cultivated in India’s semi-arid regions for culinary use. The oldest fenugreek seeds used by humans were among a set of remains in Iraq dating to 4,000 BCE.
Fenugreek is a versatile culinary ingredient, used as an herb, as a spice, or as a vegetable in its own right. Studies have indicated that fenugreek seeds may be helpful for blood sugar support. They’re high in fiber, and also contain an amino acid that may help boost insulin release.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng), an important adaptogenic herb in traditional Chinese medicine, may be an effective supplement for blood sugar support. Studies have shown that ginseng can help slow the body’s absorption of carbohydrates, preventing post-meal blood sugar spikes that could lead to insulin resistance. A typical dose is about 1-3 grams per day.
Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma sp.), also known as lingzhi mushrooms, are a set of related basidiomycetes that are used in China and Japan for natural remedies and herbal teas. The mushrooms typically have a bitter taste, and include several compounds that can have hypoglycemic effects, making them useful for blood sugar support.
Reishi mushrooms can inhibit a protein called tyrosine phosphatase 1B, and this effect has been the target of extensive medical research as a potential basis for medications to treat diabetes. It also contains polysaccharides with hypoglycemic effects.
Traditionally, reishi mushrooms are soaked in hot water to create a medicinal herbal tea. The liquid they produce is dark and decidedly bitter.
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