Herbs for diabetes 2

Botanicals and Herbs for Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes now affects more than 20 million Americans — and the diabetes epidemic shows no sign of slowing. When someone has type 2 diabetes, it needs to be controlled through controlled blood sugar levels. When diet and exercise are not enough to control blood sugar, some people with type 2 diabetes turn to medications, like metformin. However, more and more research shows that alternative medicine can also help control blood sugar. Read on for more.

The Best Herbal Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes

Although research is limited in this area, some herbal supplements do show promise in treating type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Curcumin. The compound curcumin, which is found in the spice tumeric, has been shown to both boost blood sugar control and help prevent the disease. In a nine-month study of 240 adults with pre-diabetes, those who took curcumin capsules (which are available over-the-counter) completely avoided developing diabetes while a sixth of patients in the placebo group did.
  • Ginseng. Ginseng has been used as a traditional medicine for more than 2,000 years. Studies suggest that both Asian and American ginseng may help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. One study found that extract from the ginseng berry was able to normalize blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity in mice who were bred to develop diabetes.
  • Fenugreek. This herb has been used as a medicine and as a spice for thousands of years in the Middle East. Benefits of fenugreek for diabetes have been demonstrated in both animal and human trials. In one study of 25 people with type 2 diabetes, fenugreek was found to have a significant effect on controlling blood sugar.
  • Psyllium. This plant fiber is found in common bulk laxatives and fiber supplements. Psyllium has also been used historically to treat diabetes. Studies show that people with type 2 diabetes who take 10 grams of psyllium every day can improve their blood sugar and lower blood cholesterol.
  • Cinnamon. Consuming about half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day can result in significant improvement in blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Aloe vera. This plant has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties. Some studies suggest that the juice from the aloe vera plant can help lower blood sugar in people with types 2 diabetes. The dried sap of the aloe vera plant has traditionally been used in Arabia to treat diabetes.
  • Bitter melon. This is a popular ingredient of Asian cooking and traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed to relieve thirst and fatigue, which are possible symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Research has shown that extract of bitter melon can reduce blood sugar.
  • Milk thistle. This flowering herb is found around the Mediterranean Sea. It has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. It is sometimes known by the name of its active component, silybinin. Milk thistle may reduce insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have liver disease.
  • Holy basil. This herb is commonly used in India as a traditional medicine for diabetes. Studies in animals suggest that holy basil may increase the secretion of insulin. A controlled trial of holy basil in people with type 2 diabetes showed a positive effect on fasting blood sugar and on blood sugar following a meal.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there is still not enough good evidence to support the use of herbal supplements as effective type 2 diabetes treatments. While many of these supplements show promise, until results from additional studies come out, do not take herbal supplements to treat type 2 diabetes without first consulting with your doctor. Herbal supplements have side effects and can interfere with other medications.

TELL US: Have natural treatments helped your diabetes? Share your experiences in the comments. (Note: Mobile users won’t be able to comment.)

For more diabetes news and information, follow @diabetesfacts on Twitter from the editors of EverydayHealth.


When I recently read the American Diabetes Association’s 2013 Standards of Medical Care for Type 2 Diabetes, I found many extremely alarming guidelines. Foremost is the complete over-reliance on the pharmaceutical management of diabetes and its complications, along with a complete absence of recommendations for use of critical nutritional support. The major shortcoming of pharmaceutical interventions in Type 2 diabetes is that they don’t impact the progression of the disease, and in many cases actually accelerate the underlying disease process and increase mortality. Yet this approach is the only one offered by conventional medicine.

The key issue that’s not addressed by the ADA or other conventional medical groups dealing with diabetes is that drugs are only biochemical band-aids. There is one fundamental truth that is rarely explained to the patient: Type 2 diabetes in almost every case is a disease caused by diet and lifestyle. Findings from the U.S. government’s Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) clearly support this statement. Of individuals with type 2 diabetes, 69% did not exercise at all or did not engage in regular exercise; 62% ate fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day; and 82% were either overweight or obese.

Among patients with pre-diabetes, a minimum of 150 minutes a week of physical activity similar in intensity to brisk walking was associated with a 58% reduced risk of developing diabetes. This study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, also looked at early drug therapy with metformin as a possible prevention strategy. The metformin reduced the risk by 31%. In other words, walking was nearly twice as effective!

Natural Approaches to Type 2 Diabetes

Diet alone can often be effective as the sole factor in treating and reversing Type 2. Other lifestyle factors and supplements are important, but treatment of Type 2 begins with diet. There is considerable evidence from clinical trials that a diet low in refined carbohydrates is emerging as the most scientifically proven approach, especially when considering not only its effect on blood glucose levels, but also the effects it exerts in reducing the sequelae of diabetes, such as high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and other complications.

The treatment of diabetes with natural medicine also involves trying to achieve ideal blood glucose control and metabolic targets, as well as reducing the risk of the complications of diabetes by focusing on the following four areas:

The most useful medicinal herbs to treat diabetes

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November 2012 Issue

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes With Natural Therapies
By Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 14 No. 11 P. 28

Experts examine whether alternative approaches can cure the disease or at least send it into remission.

John couldn’t seem to quench his thirst no matter how much water he drank. With his wife’s encouragement, he scheduled an appointment with his primary care doctor. A few days later, his doctor called him back into the office and told him, “You have severe type 2 diabetes.”

Like many people who receive an unexpected diabetes diagnosis, John was frightened. He started surfing the Internet and reading as much as he could about the disease. Unfortunately, the information only left him reeling with more questions than answers. To make matters worse, his doctor prescribed medication that made him hypoglycemic.

John spoke to several friends who had different health problems that had been either cured or treated by a doctor of naturopathy. He decided to schedule an appointment with the same doctor.

At his first visit, the naturopathic doctor told John he’d be “off medication and free of diabetes in three months.” John left the doctor’s office with instructions to eat a low-carb diet. He’d been on a low-fat diet for years because of heart problems, but while he’d cut the fat, his meals included many highly processed foods. His new diet included “a lot of salads and healthful, organic foods.” He was given several whole food supplements that he says were “simple to mix and tasted good.”

After two months under the care of the naturopath, John returned to his primary care doctor to discover that his hemoglobin A1c had dropped from 8.9% to 4.9%—a nondiabetic range. For eight months and counting, he’s been off all his diabetes medication. His last A1c reading was 5.1%. With the help of his naturopath, John seems to have reversed his diabetes.

Rising Epidemic
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1980 through 2010, the number of American adults aged 18 and older with diagnosed diabetes more than tripled—soaring from 5.5 million to 20.7 million. Moreover, the diabetes epidemic shows no signs of slowing down, affecting 25.8 million people in 2011. Another 79 million adults have prediabetes, putting them at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes down the road, according to the CDC.

Diabetes is a costly disease, placing a high financial burden on the patient and the healthcare system. If poorly managed or left untreated, it can cause blindness, loss of kidney function, and conditions that require the amputation of digits or limbs. The CDC reports that it’s also a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

The bottom line is that diabetes can be bad news—but this doesn’t have to be the case. Interventions can prevent or delay the disease in people with prediabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large study of people at high risk of diabetes, has established a prevention plan that’s both feasible and cost-effective. The DPP showed that weight loss and increased physical activity reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58% during a three-year period.

But what about people who’ve already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Can their diabetes be reversed? Is it possible to cure diabetes with natural therapies? And moreover, what actually constitutes a reversal of the disease? The key to answering these questions begins with the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by elevated blood glucose levels due to defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance. For those people whose bodies resist insulin, the pancreas secretes extra insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. As the condition progresses, insulin production gradually decreases and eventually reaches a level of deficiency that can no longer maintain blood glucose in the normal range. But how type 2 diabetes presents and progresses can vary considerably, as noted by the ADA, and methods of treatment can vary from patient to patient.

Alternative vs. Conventional Medicine
One way to approach diabetes is to use integrative holistic medicine, also known as alternative medicine, a medical specialty that focuses on caring for the whole person, treating and preventing disease, and empowering patients to create conditions for optimal health, according to the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.

This modality can be contrasted with the emphasis of conventional medicine, which is to cure or mitigate disease, as reported by the American Holistic Health Association. For example, a conventional practitioner will follow an established algorithm for diabetes management that includes a medically established protocol centered on monitoring blood sugar and prescribing medications to balance it. An alternative medicine provider takes a personalized, whole-person approach that may include a prescription for changes in diet and exercise habits, stress reduction, and other lifestyle considerations. (The table below offers a comparison of alternative medicine with conventional medicine.)

The concept of whole-person medicine is gathering increasing support in the nutrition and dietetics profession, as evidenced by the 2,550-member Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM) practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy).

Informed by scientific evidence, this group of RDs provides integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy (IFMNT) based on two principles: Each client has a unique genetic make up, and each client functions in an environment with internal and external factors that influence interactions between the mind, body, and spirit.

Conventional medical nutrition therapy (MNT), an intervention within the Nutrition Care Process (NCP) and Model, is defined by the Academy as “nutritional diagnostic, therapy, and counseling services for the purpose of disease management, which are furnished by a registered dietitian or a nutrition professional.”

The NCP is a systematic approach to providing high-quality nutrition care. It’s used in MNT and is at the core of IFMNT. The NCP consists of four distinct, interrelated steps: nutrition assessment, diagnosis, intervention, and monitoring/evaluation.
Using the NCP provides a framework for the RD to individualize care, taking into account the patient’s needs and values and using the best evidence available to make decisions.

Diabetes Management
Practitioners agree that nutrition is the cornerstone of diabetes management, and that a range of nutrition intervention strategies can be used to meet the metabolic goals and individual preferences of the person with diabetes. However, there are significant differences in the approach and methodologies used by alternative and conventional practitioners to manage the disease. One difference is in terminology. When is remission really remission?

John’s naturopath, Susan DeLaney, ND, RN, from The Wellness Alliance in Carrboro, North Carolina, considers diabetes to be reversed when an individual is no longer dependent on medication to maintain blood glucose levels within a fairly normal range. Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN, owner of Swift Nutrition and author of The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, describes reversal of diabetes as “restoring function and bringing the body back into glycemic balance.”

The goal of MNT is to achieve and maintain blood glucose levels in the normal range or as close to normal as is safely possible. Patients who meet this goal are described as being in control.

Conventional vs. Alternative Nutrition Recommendations

Conventional: A dietary pattern that includes carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat milk is encouraged for good health. Carbohydrate intake should be monitored using carbohydrate counting or experienced-based estimation. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for digestible carbohydrates is 130 g/day, which will provide a sufficient amount of glucose needed to fuel the central nervous system without reliance on glucose production from protein or fat. Using foods with a low glycemic index that are rich in fiber and other important nutrients is encouraged.

Alternative: DeLaney encourages her patients to avoid all wheat products “due to the increased glycemic response.” She says wheat products contain “irritating phytochemicals such as lectins and glutens.”

Sheila Dean, DSc, RD, LD, CCN, CDE, owner of Palm Harbor Center for Health & Healing in Palm Harbor, Florida, places her patients on a carbohydrate-controlled meal plan with minimally processed carbohydrates, which she refers to as “clean carbs.”

Conventional: For individuals with diabetes and normal renal function, protein recommendations are the same as healthy individuals: 15% to 20% of calories.1

Alternative: DeLaney’s meal plan calls for protein and fat at each meal to “slow the glycemic response.” She encourages wild fish but permits hamburger and pork chops. Swift, a member of the DIFM dietetic practice group, encourages her patients to follow a “plant-centric, gluten-free” diet, and she includes wild fish on the menu.

Conventional: People with diabetes are encouraged to consume a variety of fiber-containing foods, such as legumes, fiber-rich cereals, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products.1

Alternative: DeLaney instructs her patients to consume eight to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits per day. “Beneficial plant nutrients and added fiber slow the glycemic response,” she says.

Before making any fiber recommendations, Dean has her patients tested for “pancreatic insufficiency.” She believes people with pancreatic insufficiency should be given digestive enzymes along with fiber, “otherwise the fiber will just bloat them up, and they’ll be quite unhappy,” she says. Dean uses a glucomannan fiber supplement for her patients with type 2 diabetes.

Conventional: People with diabetes are asked to limit saturated fat to no more than 7% of total calories, minimize trans fat intake, and limit dietary cholesterol to 200 mg/day. Two or more servings of fish per week are recommended for their cardiovascular health.1

Alternative: “I’m a fat-atarian,” says DeLaney, who tells her patients to avoid low-fat foods. She encourages them to eat whole-fat dairy products, egg yolks, butter, olive oil, and avocado. “Restoring healthful fats to our diets as well as eliminating trans fats and all refined oils that help deplete our fat and vitamin stores will help nourish the body and reduce the need for diabetes medication.”

Dean recommends fish oils because “they have a similar mechanism of action as PPAR agonists such as metformin,” she says.

Extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds are prominent sources of healthful fat on the Swift menu.

Vitamins and Minerals
Conventional: Vitamin and mineral supplements are provided only when deficiencies have been identified. Routine supplementation with antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C and beta-carotene, isn’t advised because of lack of evidence of their effects and concerns related to long-term safety.1

Alternative: “The reason I use food-based supplements is because they most closely help correct what I see as the problem: The food we’re eating is lacking in nutrients,” DeLaney says. “If their vitamin D is low, it tells me all their fat-soluble vitamins are low.” She uses cod liver oil along with high-vitamin butter oil to restore these deficiencies.

“I prefer a ‘food as medicine’ approach,” says Swift, who also recognizes the value of “therapeutic supplementation when prescribed thoughtfully” after a complete assessment.

Dean recommends her patients supplement with vitamin D “to help strengthen the cellular signals and replete the body.” She believes her patients respond to carb counting much better with nutrient supplementation. “There’s no one magical vitamin—it’s a symphony of nutrients that work together,” she says.

Physical Activity
Conventional: People with diabetes are encouraged to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly and resistance training at least twice per week.

Alternative: Keeping in mind the principles of patient-centered care and the need to exercise the body, mind, and spirit, Swift includes yoga and qi gong on her nutritional lifestyle prescription pad for diabetes care.

Dean uses a more traditional approach. She encourages her patients to purchase a pedometer and track their daily steps, adding 500 steps each week until they’re walking 10,000 steps per day.

DeLaney encourages 30 minutes of physical activity daily, leaving the type of activity up to the patient.

Can We Reverse/Cure Diabetes?
There’s much media hype about reversing or curing diabetes, and patients are confused regarding these terms. However, many practitioners agree that bringing an A1c level down from 8.9% to 4.9% is indeed reversing the disease process.

But is John “free of diabetes”? This is where the lines become blurred. Medically speaking, the term “cure” is usually associated with acute disease—a temporary medical condition, such as bacterial pneumonia, that can be cured with antibiotics. For diabetes, which is a chronic disease, it may be more accurate to use the term “remission” rather than cure. Particularly when considering the pathology associated with diabetes and the individual’s genetic predisposition, relapse is always possible. In a consensus statement issued by the ADA, the term remission is defined based on the following definitions:2

• Partial remission: maintenance of blood glucose below diagnostic levels (a prediabetes state) without diabetes medication for at least one year;

• Complete remission: normal blood glucose without diabetes medication for at least one year; and

• Prolonged remission: complete remission for at least five years.

Tips for Dietitians
It’s well understood that weight loss, healthful eating, and physical activity are important factors in preventing, managing, and reversing diabetes. Hope Warshaw, MMSC, RD, CDE, author of Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy and other ADA publications, encourages RDs to be clear with patients when talking about reversing the disease.

“People need to understand the continuum of diabetes,” she says. “If they’re on an upward trajectory of insulin resistance and a downward trajectory of insulin production weight loss, healthful eating and physical activity will slow down the insulin-loss trajectory and improve insulin sensitivity.” But, she says, “If they gain weight back, the diabetes comes back.”

Remember that diabetes care is complex and goes beyond glucose control. Dietitians should continue to be “evidenced based but open minded,” says Patti Geil, MS, RD, FADA, CDE, coauthor of What Do I Eat Now? A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right With Type 2 Diabetes.

Dean says, “We can’t only focus on macronutrients. … We must be mindful and open to the role of micronutrients.”

Swift urges RDs to be informed and stay up-to-date as complementary and alternative medicine data evolves. Use a “whole systems, whole person” approach to health and healing. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a good place to start. “They have an outstanding program on diabetes care that’s multidisciplinary and integrative,” Swift says. You also can receive continuing education credits for attending.

— Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN, is the national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, specializing in African American nutrition, and author of the African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully With Diabetes.

Naturopathic Food Plan

Basic Rules
• Avoid all wheat products.

• Eat protein and fat at each meal, three times per day.

• Eat eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

• Avoid all trans fats and processed foods, such as cookies, cakes, and potato chips.

• Consume olive oil, avocado, butter, seeds and nuts, whole-fat dairy products, cheese, and yogurt.

• Eat 3 to 4 oz of nuts per day (eg, walnuts, almonds, pecans)

One to two eggs cooked as desired with nitrate-free, farm-raised bacon. For “Southerners,” grits and butter or whole-fat plain yogurt with nuts and fruit.

Salad with tomatoes, carrots, beets, onions, cucumbers, black olives, and “whatever else you desire.” Add pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and feta or goat cheese. Top with grilled chicken, tuna, or a hard-boiled egg. Dress with olive oil and vinegar or a lemon tahini dressing. Use mustard, garlic, or Italian seasonings to flavor the salad.

Wild Alaskan salmon, halibut, or sable fish and a grilled or roasted vegetable assortment. In the summer, try squash, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. In the fall and winter, try beets, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Also, brown rice, a sweet potato with butter, or corn on the cob.

Four squares of dark chocolate (containing 70% to 80% of cacao) eaten with walnuts, almonds, cashews, or pecans. Sliced fruit such as apples or pears with a slice of cheese and nuts or peanut butter.

— Source: Susan Delaney, ND, RN

No More Diabetes
By Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN

One of my patients, aged 58, had an initial hemoglobin A1c of 7.2%. She was taking oral hypoglycemic agents, statins, and proton pump inhibitors—the basic treatment for every diabetes diagnosis. The patient was 28 lbs overweight and worked long hours. She didn’t exercise, mostly ate a processed food diet, and was sleep deprived. The patient had a family history of diabetes, and ultimately her lifestyle expressed her genetic tendencies.

Implementing integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy, I helped the patient understand that she could reverse the trajectory she was on by making lifestyle changes—and that’s what she did. We engaged in shared decision making in our ongoing nutrition consultations. Over the course of one year, her physiology and health status changed for the better. Her A1c dropped from 7.2% to 5.6%, and she no longer required medications. She continues to adhere to her new lifestyle program and is confident she’ll remain free of a diabetes diagnosis.

Sample Menu
This is an example of what my patient eats on an average day:

Breakfast: smoothie containing 80% veggies, herbs, and spices and 20% fruit, with added nuts and seeds

Lunch: Collard green wrap with veggies, hummus, extra-virgin olive oil dressing, and avocado

Snack: Fresh fruit and a handful of nuts or seeds; occasionally dark chocolate

Dinner: Wild fish, green leafy salad with extra-virgin olive oil herb dressing, a colorful vegetable, starch (eg, sweet potato with skin) or gluten-free grain (eg, quinoa)

Beverages: Organic coffee in the morning; herbal or green tea during the day (occasionally with a drop of honey).

— Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN, is owner of Swift Nutrition, author of The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, and a member of the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

1. American Diabetes Association, Bantle JP, Wylie-Rosett J, et al. Nutrition recommendations and interventions for diabetes: statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2008;31 Suppl 1:S61-78.

2. Buse JB, Caprio S, Cefalu WT, et al. How do we define cure of diabetes? Diabetes Care. 2009;32(11):2133-2135.

Comparing Alternative and Conventional Medicine

Alternative Medicine

Conventional Medicine


Based on the integration of allopathic (MD), osteopathic (DO), naturopathic (ND), energy, and ethno-medicine

Based on allopathic medicine

Primary objective of care

To promote optimal health and, as a by-product, prevent and treat disease

To cure or mitigate disease

Primary method of care

Empower patients to heal themselves by addressing the causes of their disease and facilitating lifestyle changes through health promotion

Focus on the elimination of physical symptoms


Evaluate the whole person through holistic medical history, holistic health score sheet, physical exam, lab data

Evaluate the body with history, physical exam, lab data

Primary care treatment option

Love applied to body, mind, and spirit with diet, exercise, environmental measures, attitudinal and behavioral modifications, relationship and spiritual counseling, bioenergy enhancement

Drugs and surgery

Secondary care treatment options

Botanical (herbal) medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, manual medicine, biomolecular therapies, physical therapy, drugs, surgery

Diet, exercise, physical therapy, stress management

— Adapted from the American Holistic Health Association

Two of the Best Natural Cures for Diabetes Type 2

by: Yuri Elkaim

The amount of conflicting information surrounding type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming – especially if you’ve just been diagnosed.

Which medication is best? Will you be on medications for the rest of your life? What about side effects?

These are all valid questions, but before we get into all that, let’s answer the answer that will change your life: type 2 diabetes is a completely reversible condition (1).

This fact may come as a shock, especially most mainstream medical doctors usually recommended an endless array of medications to “manage” the condition.

Drugs vs. Lifestyle Changes

What they haven’t done is dive into the root of the problem, where the cure also awaits.

The reason for this is simple: the pharmaceutical industry survives through … well … the consumption of pharmaceuticals.

Just like any business, they naturally want to sell more product to increase revenue. In addition, they also dislike competition, especially if it’s free (aka: natural remedies).

Now, a novel can be written about this, and probably has, but this basically is akin to covering up natural ways to reverse type 2 diabetes by health care professionals. Either that, or not knowing about them.

To escape the pharmaceutical cage, we’ll be looking at how simple lifestyle changes can reverse type 2 diabetes.

However, first let’s see how diabetes develops, so we can then understand how these cures for diabetes work.

What it Means to Have Type 2 Diabetes

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes simply means there’s too much sugar floating in your bloodstream, and the built-in mechanism for removing it isn’t working properly.

Normally during the digestive process, the food you eat is broken down into sugar molecules that end up in your bloodstream. Once that sugar enters the blood, your body sends the hormone insulin to pull the sugar molecules out of your blood and into your cells to be used or stored as energy.

But with type 2 diabetes, sugar can’t enter the cells due to an effect called insulin resistance, which is brought on by a high-sugar diet that keeps dumping sugar into the bloodstream.

This leads to chronically high blood sugar levels, which of course then leads to the type 2 diagnosis.

Your Cells vs. Insulin

The problem with mainstream doctors and pharmaceuticals is that they prescribe more insulin to deal with the issue.

This doesn’t take it account the fact it’s actually the cells that are refusing entry to the sugar molecules.

Cells begin to behave this way when they’ve been repeatedly exposed to massive amounts of sugar entering the blood stream from processed foods.

Eventually, due to the damaging effects of all that sugar – and the fact that there’s more sugar in the bloodstream than the cell would ever need – cells begin to bar the entry of sugar molecules.

So how can we reverse this effect and get our cells responding again?

Read on to discover natural remedies for curing diabetes.

One of the Best (Free!) Cures for Diabetes

What if I told you that something as simple as flexing a group of your muscles – and holding them flexed – can cure type 2 diabetes?

You might be shaking your head.

But it’s true: isometric contractions, which involves contracting your muscles without moving them, are one of the simplest ways to make your body more receptive to removing sugar from the bloodstream.

This is because exercise has the same effect on cells as insulin (2).

Insulin, as we talked about earlier, pulls molecules of sugar out blood and brings them toward cells for absorption.

But with type 2 diabetes, cells resist the insulin, refusing to “open up” and receive the sugar.

Here’s the cool thing: exercise stimulates something called the GLUT4 transporter – which signals cells to open and receive energy, just like insulin, allowing sugar to be shuttled inside.

When Being Tense Is Good

This is fantastic news, as even standing isometric contractions, where you contract every muscle in your body, is a form of exercise.

Even if you’re standing completely still, this form of contraction – where you flex or “tense” up your muscles – will make the muscles more sensitive to sugar uptake.

Plus, this kind of exercise is convenient and helpful if you have joint problems or other issues that prevent intense exercise.

However, it is still recommended to walk every day, at minimum, to reap the diabetes-curing effect of exercise.

And, if you can exercise at a higher intensity, all the better, as studies have shown that the higher the intensity, the more glucose gets shuttled into the cells and used, thus producing a greater effect (3).

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Naturally with Diet

Since we know the onset of type 2 diabetes is fueled by high refined sugar intake, we also know that eliminating excess sugar from the diet can also reverse it.

Yes, it’s challenging to avoid sugar – especially when you’re surrounded by convenient (and tasty) processed treats. But with some planning, you can take steps to stay on the path to diabetes reversal.

Protein, Healthy Fats, and Fiber

Proteins and healthy fats play a key role in stabilizing your blood sugar all day.

This is especially true when it comes to breakfast, as having starchy carbohydrates with no protein first thing in the morning interferes with cortisol – which naturally is highest in the morning.

One of cortisol’s roles is to break down sugar, and by providing it with an overload, we end up with high cortisol levels.

This can lead to a whole bunch of issues including behavioral problems, adrenal stress, and gaining belly fat (4).

Foods high in protein and healthy fats include avocados, wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, turkey, and chicken, eggs, nuts and seeds, and olive and coconut oil.

It also helps to pair these protein and fat foods with natural sugar sources, like starchy vegetables, whole, gluten-free grains, and fruits. They help stabilize blood sugar levels and minimize insulin spikes.

For example, a balanced meal could be a berry smoothie with half an avocado, apple slices with quinoa, or hummus with veggies and slices of turkey or chicken.

Coconut Flour Pancakes via Fit Foodie Finds

Want more high-protein recipe ideas? Check out this post.

Bulk Up

Foods that are high in fiber also slow down sugar’s release into the bloodstream.

Getting plenty of it in natural foods helps us avoid blood sugar spikes, and cuts down the amount of free-flowing sugar that leads to insulin resistance.

Foods high in fiber include dark leafy greens, lentils, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Keep in mind when choosing fruits to go for low-sugar varieties, like berries and apples.

Bowl of Lentil Curry via Yuri Elkaim

Try these recipes:

  • This Is the Easiest Curried Lentils Recipe You’ll Ever Make
  • 17 Easy Garbanzo Bean Salad Recipes When You Need to Eat Fast
  • A Healthy Make-Ahead Enchilada Bake You Need to Be Making

Avoid Flour and Limit Grains

White flour is heavily processed – and it breaks down fast into the bloodstream. While it may seem okay in moderation, research has shown that even with an overall healthy diet, the addition of white flour raises your risk for diabetes and many other preventable diseases (5).

That’s one of the reasons I recommend going gluten-free, and instead choosing whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, brown rice, or wild rice.

However, keep in mind that while these grains cause less of a blood sugar spike, they are still a sugar source and should be limited to once per day.

Bowl of Vegetarian Bibimbap via Yuri Elkaim

Recipes to try:

  • Vegetarian Quinoa Bibimbap Recipe
  • Sweet and Savory Asian Brown Rice Bowl

Try Nut Milk Products

Most commercial, low-fat dairy products contain added sugar, which can lead to blood sugar spikes.

Unsweetened nut milks, such as almond or coconut milk, offer healthy fats and protein, while lacking the excess sugar and artificial hormones found in processed dairy milk. Be sure to read labels, though, because some brands do sneak in sugar and additives.

Better yet, make you own nut milks!

Healthy Kitchen, Healthy Body

Now that you have an idea of what foods to include in your diet, it’s important to keep your kitchen filled with these while also removing “tempting” treats that will wreak havoc on your blood sugar.

If you’re craving something sweet, look into creating healthy alternatives at home using a natural sweetener. Stevia has no glycemic index (meaning it has zero effect on blood sugar) and works well in baked goods, coffee, and teas.

Also, consider using a nut flour, such as almond flour, to bake high protein, low-sugar muffins or cookies.

When you’re on the hunt for a quick fix, stick to two squares of very dark (85 percent) chocolate.

With that being said, it’s a good idea to prepare meals ahead of time, especially if you’re busy and tend to grab food on the go. This will ensure you stick to whole foods and kick excuses to the curb.

A good plan is to choose a day on the weekend to prep your meals and snacks for the week ahead.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is an inexpensive, accessible product that has a myriad of benefits – from supporting weight loss to lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation.

Another key benefit is that it reduces the glycemic load of foods. Remember that the glycemic index measures the “spike” in blood sugar a particular food causes, which is normally high in starchy carb and sugar foods.

ACV helps to blunt this spike. Try consuming a couple teaspoons in a glass of water before your meals – or try this soda recipe of mine.

Raw Potato Starch

Raw potato starch is a super affordable, lesser-known product that is powerful in helping reverse type 2 diabetes.

It works due to its high levels of resistant starch; a starch that is not digested by the body, but is consumed readily by the good bacteria, or probiotics, in our guts.

The reason we want to feed these probiotics is because research has shown a strong correlation between dysbiosis, or imbalanced gut bacteria, and obesity and type 2 diabetes (6).

In addition, resistant starch has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, decrease blood sugar response to foods, decrease hunger, and aid in weight loss (7).

You can find raw potato starch in any health food or grocery store.

Carrot Cake Smoothie via Yuri Elkaim

It can easily be added to smoothies (like this Carrot Cake smoothie) and other dishes.

Building New Habits

Of course, none of these strategies for reversing type 2 diabetes will be effective without commitment.

While preparing your meals ahead of time and keeping your pantry sugar-free will go a long way in helping you stay on track, it will be your level of dedication that will keep you from, say, digging into that box of doughnuts at the office.

By taking control of these temptations and knowing that they’re responsible for a host of other diseases along with diabetes, you’ll be on the path to reversing your condition for good.

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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.

Chinese herbal medicines for type 2 diabetes mellitus

Sixty-six randomised trials, involving 8302 participants, met the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality was generally low. Sixty-nine different herbal medicines were tested in the included trials, which compared herbal medicines with placebo, hypoglycaemic drugs, or herbal medicines plus hypoglycaemic drugs.
Compared with placebo, Holy basil leaves, Xianzhen Pian, Qidan Tongmai, traditional Chinese formulae (TCT), Huoxue Jiangtang Pingzhi, and Inolter showed significantly hypoglycaemic response. Compared with hypoglycaemic drugs including glibenclamide, tolbutamide, or gliclazide, seven herbal medicines demonstrated a significant better metabolic control, including Bushen Jiangtang Tang, Composite Trichosanthis, Jiangtang Kang, Ketang Ling, Shenqi Jiangtang Yin, Xiaoke Tang, and Yishen Huoxue Tiaogan. In 29 trials that evaluated herbal medicines combined with hypoglycaemic drugs, 15 different herbal preparations showed additional better effects than hypoglycaemic drugs monotherapy. Two herbal therapies combined with diet and behaviour change showed better hypoglycaemic effects than diet and behaviour change alone. No serious adverse effects from the herbal medicines were reported.


Diabetes diagnoses have more than tripled since 1980, now affecting over 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the US population. At this rate, one third of America will have diabetes by 2050. This staggering number, measured against the fact that a majority of type 2 diabetes cases are treatable and preventable, illustrates one of the greatest health emergencies our country has ever faced. Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that affects the way the body metabolizes sugar – glucose, specifically. Glucose is the primary source of energy for every cell in the body, whether in the brain, the heart, or the muscles that help you walk. People with diabetes have too much glucose in their blood, which, if left unmanaged, can lead to serious health problems and can be life-threatening. At Tao of Wellness, we have helped many people control their blood sugar. Our natural approach incorporates acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy as first-line therapies for many sufferers. We are an integrative clinic that will also work with your endocrinologist to prevent and treat any complications from your condition.

How We Successfully Treat Diabetes

Diabetes is a complex syndrome involving many of the body’s systems and has the potential to damage the heart, kidneys, nervous system, and hormonal system. If left unmanaged, diabetes can cause many complications including blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, decreased wound healing, skin ulceration, and infections that sometimes lead to gangrene and amputation. There are two types of chronic diabetes conditions: type 1 diabetes and the more common type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a reversible condition where blood sugar is slightly elevated but may still respond to diet, lifestyle changes, and Chinese medicine. Another condition called gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy but often resolves after delivery of the baby. Conventional management of diabetes may include blood sugar monitoring, oral medications, and insulin injection therapy.

With proper diet and an approach that integrates Western and Eastern medicine, type 2 diabetes can be controlled and sometimes reversed. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, where the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin (a hormone made in the pancreas that helps glucose move from your bloodstream into the body’s cells), or it becomes resistant to the effects of insulin. While there is no cure for type 2 diabetes we have observed clinically that a patient’s condition can improve to the degree that they no longer need pharmaceutical medication.

At Tao of Wellness, we work with endocrinologists to reverse or control diabetes – our patients are given a detailed diet plan as part of our nutritional therapy. Patients are advised on cardiovascular exercise as well as meditations to keep stress levels low. We administer regular acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbal medicine to strengthen organ function and improving the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize sugar. As glucose levels normalize, it is often possible to reduce or eliminate diabetes medications.

The best approach to diabetes is, of course, prevention. With simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, along with regular check-ups, you can keep this debilitating condition from taking over, ensuring you live your best life.

Our Customized Therapies for Overcoming Diabetes

Customized Treatment Program
There is no singular diabetes treatment as Chinese medicine focuses on treating the person, not just the disease. Our doctors will give you an individualized treatment plan based on your unique body and condition. Each time you visit, you will receive a customized acupuncture treatment and a personalized herbal prescription. We will take your needs and lifestyle into account when creating your diet and exercise plan.

Acupuncture is a powerful therapy to help the body balance blood sugar and manage the symptoms of diabetes. Acupuncture is effective at treating symptoms such as low energy, slow wound healing, neuropathy, and frequent urination. Additionally, acupuncture treatment can relieve stress and modulate hormone levels. Most people find acupuncture treatments very relaxing. Learn more about acupuncture.

Chinese Herbal Medicine
A number of select herbs have been found to be effective for the treatment of diabetes, and your Tao of Wellness practitioner will prescribe a customized herbal formulation for you according to your individual needs. Traditional herbs used to treat diabetes include rehmannia, Asian cornelian cherry, Chinese yam, poria, mouton, ganoderma, astragalus, ginseng, cinnamon and water plantain. Learn more about Chinese herbal medicine.

Nutritional Therapy
All patients at Tao of Wellness will receive dietary recommendations to help manage their condition. Additionally, comprehensive nutritional consultations are available including assessment of your condition, lifestyle, and individual needs; and then a detailed eating plan will be devised for you. Nutritional supplements may also be recommended for you, which have been specially formulated by the doctors at Tao of Wellness.

Nutritional Counseling
The key to maintaining normal sugar levels in the body is to eat a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, organic sources of protein, and healthy fats. We will discuss these principles when we give you a customized eating plan to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent and control diabetes. Every patient receives nutritional information but Nutritional Counseling goes further to provide a custom eating plan, complete with meals and snacks, using diabetes-healing foods. We also take into account your current food choice and preparation habits and work with you to make the changes you need to reach your optimum weight and blood sugar.

Nutritional Supplements
We will advise you on which supplements are safe and effective to help you prevent or control your diabetes. Sugar Leveler and Metabolism Boost are two common supplements we have formulated and regularly use for diabetes. As part of your initial consultation, we will review any supplements you are currently taking and make recommendations for you based on your condition. Learn more about nutritional therapy.

Mind Body Exercise
Keeping fit and maintaining proper weight are the best things you can do to prevent diabetes. Exercise plays a critical role in how your body stores and uses the sugar you consume. A daily 30-minute cardiovascular activity that stimulates circulation, strengthens the heart, and builds muscle will encourage your body to properly use up the sugar, helping to prevent high blood glucose or diabetes. Studies show that the relaxing and strengthening exercises of tai chi and qi gong have a beneficial effect on the blood sugar balance and the metabolic-hormonal system. With daily practice of qi gong exercises such as Qi Gong for Weight Loss, you can increase metabolism, balance your blood sugar levels, and achieving weight wellness while avoiding serious complications of diabetes. At Tao of Wellness, we offer individualized tai chi and qi gong sessions where we can teach you targeted exercises to prevent and control diabetes. Learn more about tai chi and qi gong.

Diabetes Patient Success Stories

Walk Your Walk, Eat Your Veggies
“I’m not going to die… soon, at least not of Type-2 diabetes thanks to Drs. Mao and Chen. Before my physical, I was a 218 pound, sedentary 58-year-old who ate what I wanted and walked at a measured pace a few times a week. Today, I’m a 190-pound, 45-minute-a-day fast-walking 60-year-old with normal blood glucose levels, who eats a lot of lean chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel’s sprouts, and yams. “First, they talked me down from the anxiety. Type-2 diabetes, they assured me, is not a death sentence. Second, they taught me the proper actions in the face of high blood glucose: diet and exercise. Given the will—and it doesn’t take that much will if you’re thinking death, blindness, or losing some toes, which are the consequences of non-action—the Tao of Wellness method (including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine) can help you eliminate high blood glucose in three months. I went from numbers north of 200 down to daily readings in the 75-105 range. “The Tao of Wellness process is surprisingly simple. After Dr. Mao sends you to an outside lab for a blood panel, just to see what other factors you might be dealing with, you’ll meet Dr. Chen, who’s an expert in nutrition. She’ll ask you to keep a log for a week of meals, snacks, secret trips to Godiva or Starbucks—in short, an honest inventory of what you put in your body, including vitamins—and of your exercise, bedtime, blood glucose, and energy levels. The two of you will review your food list and you’ll receive gentle suggestions of ways you can alter the habits that need altering. She will show you how to read the labels on food containers. “And of course, she’ll steer you away from sugar. Carbohydrates, or saccharides, are sugars and starches, which come in two types: simple (monosaccharides) and complex (polysaccharides). You’ll want the complex kind because they take longer to digest and thus keep insulin/glucose levels balanced in the blood. You’ll be seeing Dr. Chen at least once a week for acupuncture, and you’ll bring your food list. It will be easy, really. “When your glucose levels have dropped to normal, you’ll begin visiting less frequently because you’ll have successfully integrated the few changes (walk your walk, eat your veggies) it takes to achieve your life-saving balance. You, too, deserve to live to be 120. I can’t be the only one.” – Richard

Natural Healthcare for Diabetes

Tao of Wellness was established in 1976 as a resource to address diabetes. We strive to support you in mind and body, and invite you to make an appointment for your health and wellbeing. It would be our pleasure to serve you.

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