A chronic ailment that can be regulated and treated but never cured, diabetes is a disease that wrecks havoc in the patient’s day-to-day life: diet, physical activity, social life… everything must be adapted.
Today, over 100 million diabetic persons struggle with the disease across the planet, and 2.8% of the adult population has to deal with its consequences.
With a rate of nearly 20% of the population being diabetic, Americans are among the hardest-hit populations. However, in Asia, only a tiny portion of patients are hit.
The fourth leading cause of death in the industrialized world, diabetes afflicts more and more people who aren’t even aware of it.
For example, in France, even though generally the prevalence rate of diabetes is rather low, within a decade it grew from 1.6 to 2.9 million persons; and among these patients, 600,000 actually ignore they’re sick.
But what are the symptoms and causes of diabetes? Can plants with their benefits help treat this affliction?
Diabetes is defined by a “disorder in the absorption, use and storing of sugar as provided by the diet“.
Indeed, this disorder in the body translates into hyperglycemia. It means that there is an abnormal increase in sugar levels (or glucose levels) in the blood.
Different types of diabetes and Symptoms
There are three major types of diabetes, and all involve hyperglycemia in the blood:
– Type 1 diabetes
It usually impacts youth. Whatever the age, though, the patient experiences a rapid onslaught of symptoms in a short period of time, just a few days. It is characterized by excessive fatigue and weakness, intense thirst, stomach aches, a feeling of needing to urinate (day and night), weight loss even though appetite has increased, vomiting and, sometimes, bad breath that smells of acetone. If the patient isn’t cared for in short time, he or she risks falling into a diabetic ketoacidosis coma.
– Type 2 diabetes
More “stealthy”, this type of diabetes mainly impacts overweight persons over the age of 40.
Indeed, it can appear very late, even though hyperglycemia has already been recorded.
Symptoms are often disorders or complications such as erectile dysfunction, pain in the legs, lower visual acuity or heart attack, which triggers alerts since it increases the patient’s insulin needs.
To these can be added other symptoms such as tingling hands, pain or cramps in the legs, bad wound-healing, numbness, heart or vascular pathology, vision disorders, recurring infections in the gums, skin, bladder, vulva for women and around the foreskin in uncircumcised men.
– Gestational diabetes
Just like Type 2 diabetes that can be triggered by a shock event or following the ingesting of certain medicines, gestational diabetes mostly occurs – as its name shows – during pregnancy.
The patient complains of abundant urination, unusual exhaustion, intense thirst and notices extremely rapid weight gain or loss.
Source and causes of diabetes
Food contains carbohydrates (sugar, starch), proteins (meat) and lipids (fats).
When we ingest these, blood sugar levels rise and carbohydrates are transformed into glucose.
The pancreas is the organ that regulates sugar levels in the blood, and when it rises too much, it produces insulin that increases absorption of excess sugar in the body. Thus, blood sugar is regulated and the sugar is converted to fats for storage or to energy. In diabetic persons, this process is defective.
For Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas cells responsible for producing insulin are destroyed by the immune system.
This might result from external factors, some of which can be genetics, related to diet and climate (production of vitamin D after exposure to UV rays) or other health conditions (cystic fibrosis, cyst, inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatic cancer).
For Type 2 diabetes, the body has built up a resistance to insulin.
Not all causes have yet been identified, but to name a few, there are genetics, environmental factors (physical inactivity) and dietary intake (high consumption of fast-acting sugar or saturated fats), also combined with physical inactivity.
As for gestational diabetes, causes include a history of diabetes in the family, polycystic ovarian syndrome, repeated urinary tract infections, obesity, hypertension, proto-diabetes (or glucose intolerance), restrictive diets, and even the fact of having given birth to a child of over 9 lbs (4 kg)… causes are many.
Natural treatment against diabetes
Certain medicinal plants are precious for persons suffering from diabetes.
If the benefits of some are known to stimulate the pancreas, others reduce the tendency of cells to resist insulin.
Also, certain medicinal plants reduce risks of having diabetes run out of control, and some also directly contain insulin.
From all these, the following may be marked as interesting:
– Onion – thanks to its antioxidant, antihyperglycemic and hypoglycemic properties, it reduces the rate of lipids in the blood.
- Onion can be ingested raw, 1 to 1¼ oz (30 to 40 g) a day, or prepared as a base tincture (40 to 50 drops, 3 times a day), in soup or infusions.
– Cornflower – with several different types of antioxidants, cornflower seems to increase receptiveness of cells to insulin while reducing blood sugar levels.
- Ingested raw, without restraint and with no sugar added, this little fruit is said to be very effective against diabetes.
– Garlic – thanks to its compounds, garlic has a beneficial impact on sugar levels and also on complications related to diabetes (triglycerides, cholesterol).
- It can be ingested as an alcohol-based tincture (20 to 30 drops a day), raw, either mashed or chopped finely (1 to 2 cloves a day),
- or in powder form, 0.5 or 1 g a day (in the form of gastroresistant capsules).
– Chia – since it contains various nutrients, this plant stabilizes blood sugar levels for persons suffering from diabetes.
- For that, it is recommended to soak a couple table spoons of seeds in ten times the same volume of water.
- After that, add cinnamon and macerate for ¼ hour, 20 minutes maximum before ingesting it.
- You can also add plant-based milk instead of water.
– Eucalyptus – slightly hypoglycemic eucalyptus leaf is said to increase insulin production. Herbalists recommend an infusion to sustain hypocaloric (low-calorie) diets that diabetic persons are required to follow.
- Dosage is one teaspoon of crushed dried leaves per mug of very hot water.
- Let steep for about 10 minutes. Drink 2 or 3 mugs a day.
- However, 2 to 3 drops 3 times a day of eucalyptus essential oil are also effective against diabetes.
- As for base tincture, 50 drops 3 times a day are enough.
– Fenugreek – as part of a wholesome treatment for Type 1 and 2 diabetes, its seed (powdered or germinated) seems to be very effective.
This hypoglycemic seed is ingested as a decoction (daily) or is paired with meals.
– Ginseng – a hypoglycemic medicinal herb, ginseng can be prepared as a base tincture or decoction.
– Eastern black walnut – known for its hypoglycemic properties, this plant can be taken as a decoction or as a base tincture.
– Nettle – a diuretic plant, nettle reduces sugar levels in the blood.
– Psyllium – psyllium or ispaghula powder, when added to cereals and porridges, reduces glucose levels in the blood.
– Olive tree – its leaves are known for their hypoglycemic, antioxidant and hypotensive properties.
Herbalists recommend, cold maceration glycerin extraction of buds (50 to 100 drops a day), base tincture (60 drops a day) and freeze-powdered leaves (0.5 à 1g a day).
Infusions prepared from olive tree leaves seem to be less effective.
Good to know about diabetes
When treating against Type 2 diabetes, medicinal plants and herbs and their extracts seem to be effective. However, regular medical follow-up on top of this is always recommended.
Note: to treat any given ailment, it isn’t required to combine all mentioned plants. 2 or 3 should be enough.
Always ask specialists for advice and your consulting physician, too.