Herbs Help Treat Diabetes: Bilberry, Gymnema, Ginkgo and Salt Bush

Friday, January 08, 2010 by: Melanie Grimes
Tags: diabetes, gymnema, health news

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(NaturalNews) Many herbal remedies are used to treat symptoms of diabetes and have shown results in naturally lowering blood sugar levels. Scientific research is now shedding new light on the mechanisms used since ancient times to treat diabetes with herbs and nutrition.

Diabetes was noted as far back as Ancient Greece. The name comes from two Greek words meaning the siphon and to run through, which describes the diabetic symptom of excess urine. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, where over twenty three million, almost eight percent of the population, have been diagnosed with the disorder. The number of cases of diabetes doubled from 1990 to 2005 and is expected to double again by 2050. Side effects of diabetes include kidney disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, blindness and hearing loss.

The cause of diabetes is not known but 90% of those with Type 2 diabetes are obese. Most consider that diabetes is triggered by numerous factors, including inheritance, nutrition, obesity, infection, hormonal imbalances, and stress.

One of the commonly used herbs to treat diabetes is Bilberry, or European Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). The leaves of this plant have been shown to lower blood sugar. Traditional usage was a few handfuls of leaves in three to four cups of water simmered for a half hour. A few cups of Bilberry tea lower blood sugar. Extracts of Bilberry are now available and a dosage is between 80 to 160 mg three times a day to treat diabetes.

Gymnema sylvestre
The Indian plant, Gymnema is part of the milkweed family. It is known as Gurmar in Hindi, meaning "Sugar Destroyer," and has been used in Ayurvedic, or Indian, Medicine for centuries. Research has shown that 400 mg a day of Gymnema will help glucose to be reabsorbed into the blood, thereby lowering blood sugar.

Salt Bush
Israeli research on the Salt Bush plant, or Atriplex halim, has demonstrated its ability to improve blood sugar regulation. The study used 3 grams a day of the herb to treat diabetes.

Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba is used by herbalists to treat the side effects of diabetes, particularly by increasing blood flow to the limbs and the eyes. Because of Ginkgo's effect on blood vessels, it is used to prevent diabetic retinopathy. Research has also confirmed Ginkgo's effect on depression in diabetes and non-diabetes sufferers. The active ingredient is called ginkgo flavoglycoside, and the daily dosage is 0 to 80 mg three times a day to treat diabetes symptoms.

Diabetes symptoms can be treated with herbs, as has been shown since ancient times and by modern research. Using plants as integrative medicine, diabetics can enjoy the symptom-reducing effects of botanical medicine.


About the author

Melanie Grimes is a writer, award-winning screenwriter, medical journal editor, and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University. She also teaches homeopathy at the Seattle School of Homeopathy and the American Homeopathic Medical College.
A trained homeopath, she is the editor of the homeopathic journal, Simillimum, and has edited alternative and integrative medical journals for 15 years. She has taught creative writing, founded the first Birkenstock store in the USA and authored medical textbooks.
Her ebook on Natural Remedies for the Flu is available at:
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