July 24, 2020


By: Sam Musa PharmD

Black seed

Black seed comes from the seed of Nigella Sativa plant. Patients with diabetes find black seed beneficial without any known side effects.   Black seed has a rich source of thymoquinone, linoleic acid, oleic acid, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B2  and vitamin C.Laboratory studies have demonstrated Thymoquinone(a constituent in black seed), when administered orally to diabetic rats, improved the glycemic status to near normal, without any side effects.

Another study found that active extracts of black seeds reverse the oxidative stress in the hearts and brains of diabetic animals and significantly increase the release of insulin from the pancreatic islets of diabetic models. Thymoquinone administration also results in protecting against the deleterious effects of long term administration of antiretroviral drugs on insulin production and on the size reduction in the pancreatic islets of rats. These findings emphasize the traditional value of black seed as a safe and effective alternative approach for better human health. 



Fenugreek seed powder in animal and human trials demonstrated great potential of possible hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) and lipid (fat) lowering properties. In human studies, fenugreek reduced the area under the plasma glucose curve and increased the number of insulin receptors.

In a double-blind trial fenugreek has been found to improve blood sugar level in patients with insulin-dependent (Type 1) and non-insulin-dependent (type2) diabetes. Although the mechanism for this effect is not fully understood, several mechanisms could be suggested and include delay of gastric emptying, slowing carbohydrate absorption, inhibition of glucose transport from the fiber content, as well as increased erythrocyte insulin receptors and modulation of peripheral glucose utilization.

Many studies in alloxan (diabetic) rat models have shown modulated exocrine pancreatic secretion.In humans, fenugreek seeds were found to exert hypoglycemic effects by stimulating glucose -dependent insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells as well as by inhibiting the activity of alpha-amylase and intestinal enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. In addition to the hypoglycemic activities, fenugreek seeds are found to lower serum triglycerides, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).



Over the past several decades, evidence has been accumulating in support of the usefulness of cinnamon in lowering glucose level in diabetics. Animal and human studies have elucidated the effect of administering cinnamon powder to patients with Type 2 diabetes and have revealed a great potential for cinnamon as an effective supplement for glycemic control. A study in diabetic mice showed that cinnamon lowers blood glucose, fats and total cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol levels.

In human studies, volunteers with type 2 diabetes were given one, three or six grams of cinnamon powder per day. All responded within weeks, with blood sugar levels that were on average 20 percent lower than the control group. Some even achieved normal blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon consumption also demonstrated promising results on lowering high blood pressure, fats and "bad" cholesterol. Some studies , however, have failed to replicate these findings, which indicate the need for more clinical trials to establish the potential of cinnamon as a therapeutic herb and to assure the perspective of cinnamon in health applications. 


Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is known for its potential to support healthy circulation. Ginkgo biloba seems to reduce platelet hypersensitivity, a condition often found in diabetics, and to increase the production of pancreatic insulin. Ginkgo biloba has also been shown to improve cerebral and peripheral vascular blood flow. This is important for diabetics who commonly suffer from peripheral vascular insufficiency. The flavonoids found in ginkgo biloba are believed to help halt or lessen some retinal problems (that is, problems to the back part of the eye). Retinal damage has a number of potential causes, including diabetes and macular degeneration. 


Bitter Melon

Bitter melon is currently reported to help in the treatment of diabetes and recent studies endorse the supplemental value of bitter melon in helping to improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

The blood lowering action of the fresh juice of the unripe bitter melon has been confirmed in scientific studies and may thus be promising for those with type 2 diabetes. At least three different groups of constituents using bitter melon have been reported to have hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) or other actions of potential benefit in diabetes. Bitter melon preparations have been shown to significantly improve glucose tolerance without increasing blood insulin levels, as well as improve fasting blood glucose levels. Blood and urine sugar levels along with postprandial (after eating ) blood glucose levels also fell. 



Garlic is one of the most commonly used spices worldwide, but recently it has received more attention as a promising therapeutic agent. Clinical literature on garlic has focused on its potential antioxidant activity and microcirculatory effects (e.g. for use in hypertension and lowering lipids in the blood).  Some studies have examined garlic's effects on insulin and glucose handling. Experiments in animal models with induced diabetes have shown moderate reductions in blood glucose with no effect seen in animals in which the pancreas was removed. 

Reported mechanisms for garlic activity include increased secretion or slowed degradation of insulin,  increased glutathione peroxidase activity and improved liver glycogen storage. One study which examined the thrombocyte aggregation in nondiabetic individuals revealed significant decreases in fasting serum glucose, which emphasize the potential remedial value of garlic as a food ingredient. 



Ginseng may provide a wide range of mechanisms that support a healthy lifestyle for diabetes. Modern clinical studies have focused on the use of Panax ginseng in cancer prevention, blood sugar regulation, fatigue and immunomodulation in human health and disease. More than one plant species are often referred to as ginseng: Chinese or Korean ginseng(Panax ginseng), Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), American ginseng (Panax quiquefolius) and Japanese ginseng (Panax japonicus).Ginseng has been used by Asian cultures for thousands of years to treat conditions such as fatigue, mental stress, blood sugar regulation, improving libido and supporting longevity.

Historical records indicate that ginseng root was used to treat a disease matching the signs of diabetes. The ancient Chinese used ginseng to "quench thirst," amongst its other wide ranging beneficial effects; this may refer to the anti-diabetic activity of ginseng. Research on ginseng root and its effect on blood sugar levels began sometime after 1920 when Japanese scientists reported that ginseng root decreased the baseline blood glucose and reduced hyperglycemia caused by the administration of large amounts of glucose. Since then ginseng root has been used to care for diabetic patients. Results of in vitro studies, animal experiments and clinical trials strongly support the claim that ginseng root possess anti-diabetic properties.

Ginseng works to lower blood sugar by: (a) decreasing the rate of carbohydrate absorption into the  hepatic portal circulation, (b) increasing glucose transport and uptake, (c) increasing glycogen storage and (d) modulating insulin secretion. 

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