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Botanical Herb Treatment for Diabetes

Fresh herbs on top of a doctor's prescription pad next to stethoscope

Diabetes symptoms are sprouting up for millions of Americans like weeds in a garden. Like a garden, your body is a complex system of processes that requires biochemical balance to function and flourish. A garden needs just enough sun, water, oxygen, and glucose. Too much water can suffocate plants; not enough water parches them. Some sunlight feeds them; too much burns them. If imbalance persists long enough, they will wither and die.

Like plants, humans are fueled by glucose. It generates energy for our muscles, tissues and brain processes. Blood glucose is derived from the food we eat, and is stored and produced by our liver , which must break it down into healthy, manageable levels.

When your pancreas can't produce enough insulin, or doesn't use insulin effectively, glucose remains trapped in your blood, unable to reach your cells, stimulating the imbalance called diabetes .

When the side effects of Type 2 diabetes pharmaceuticals were discovered (like the lactic acidosis, anemia, and kidney dysfunction that Metformin can cause), The World Health Organization encouraged research on botanical medicine to validate centuries old alternative treatments. Researchers estimate that more than 1000 plant species are used to treat or manage diabetes worldwide.1

It may be tempting to run out and start picking your own medicinal plants, but that would not be wise. Botanical medicine experts have studied the effects (desired and undesired) of herbs and plants. They have also monitored hormone and nutrient levels in patients before prescribing the appropriate amount of treatment.

Botanical treatments for diabetes management

Taking the exact dose of prescribed herbs is crucial – a damaged or inflamed pancreas can't handle herb overload. In fact, taking the wrong dose can cause more damage. Everybody tolerates and processes herbs differently. Harvesting, manufacturing and packaging can affect strength and purity. Herbs may present contraindications with one another, and/or with other medical treatments. Always consult a certified herbalist when choosing this treatment option.

Botanicals that may help reverse a pre-diabetes diagnosis include1:

  • juniper berries: naturally store plant insulin which has a similar effect as natural insulin; can relieve symptoms of hyperglycemia without producing adverse effects; enhances cellular uptake of glucose from the circulation; initiates weight loss by the peripheral breakdown of fat; improves kidney function and glomerular filtration2
  • fenugreek: taking 100 grams a day for 10 days reduces FBG, TG, total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL and glucosuria; may prevent the rise of plasma glucose after meal or glucose ingestion; can diminish blood glucose levels within 4 hours after ingestion3
  • horse chestnut: contains ecsin, which has been shown to decrease blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood
  • turmeric: reduces infiltration of inflammatory cells in the pancreas; consume with black pepper to boost absorption by about 2000%
  • triphala and bibhitaki: can boost red blood cells, remove fat from the body, and maintain normal blood sugar levels
  • ocimum sanctum: taking 2 grams per day for 3 months reduces polydipsia, polyphagia, and tiredness; can also decrease FBG and glycated protein, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • goldenseal: can lower blood sugar levels by stimulating pancreatic beta cells; may also benefit your colon and spleen
  • milk thistle: 200 mg three times a day can reduce glucose, lipids, FBG, HbA1c, total cholesterol, LDL, and TF while reducing insulin resistance and need for insulin injections
  • horsetail: rich in silica, it may help heal and rebuild damaged tissue; may stimulate anti-diabetic compounds
  • nigella sativa: taking it in oil form significantly decreases FBG and LDL and increases high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels; can significantly decrease FBG and increase insulin while positively impacting blood glucose, serum lipids, and blood pressure
  • oregano: full of antioxidants and may help manage hyperglycemia
  • garlic: lowers your blood sugar and helps your pancreas produce insulin
  • bael: 5 grams per day for 1 month has hypoglycemic effects; leaves taken in 2 grams twice a day positively improves fasting blood glucose and urinary glucose
  • gymnema sylvestre: leaves taken in 400 mg per day for 18 months significantly decreases serum lipids; may increase circulating insulin and C-peptide
  • bitter melon: drinking its juice decreases PPBG levels and improves glucose tolerance
  • ginseng: 3 grams of ginseng daily can regulate PPBG levels and blood glucose while lowering weight
  • salacia reticulate: 240 mg per day for 6 weeks or tea for 3 months can decrease FBG and HbA1c levels
  • cinnamon: a source of polyphenolics that affects blood glucose and insulin signaling by regulating blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, reducing weight, and reducing blood fat levels
  • pax ginseng: this appetite suppressant boosts your metabolism and may help burn fat faster
  • holy basil: his herb is commonly used in India as a traditional medicine for diabetes. studies suggest that holy basil may increase the secretion of insulin and have a positive effect on fasting blood sugar and on blood sugar following a meal1
  • psyllium: commonly found in bulk laxatives and fiber supplements; 10 grams of psyllium daily may improve blood sugar and lower blood cholesterol
  • aloe vera: aloe juice or dried sap can help lower blood sugar in people with types 2 diabetes

As with any medical procedure, results of botanical treatments will vary from patient to patient depending on age, genetics, general health, condition severity, follow-up care, and environmental factors.

Herbs that may be safe for typical patients may not be safe for pregnant women. Discussing everything you ingest with your medical provider is absolutely crucial for protecting you and your unborn child. Consuming certain herbs may cause drastic side effects—including premature birth or fetal death. Always consult your healthcare provider before embarking on your treatment journey.

Learn more today

For a healthier, happier life without insulin resistance complications nurture your body as you would nurture your garden. You may be able to prevent or reverse the biochemical imbalance called Type 2 diabetes with botanic biochemicals – only if you work with a certified, highly-skilled herbalist who can prescribe treatment for your specific case and severity.

If you suspect you have diabetes or you've been recently diagnosed and want to learn more, explore our diabetes pages and contact a diabetes professional today.


  1. Dudu Ozkum, Hale Zerrin Toklu. “Herbal medicine use among diabetes mellitus patients in Northern Cyprus.” Journal of medicinal plant research 7(22):1652-1664 · June 2013
  2. De Medina, S., et.al. Planta Medica Journal. Jun 1994:60(3): 197-200.
  3. Gaddam, Arpana, et al. “Role of Fenugreek in the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Prediabetes.” Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders, vol. 14, no. 1, 2015, doi:10.1186/s40200-015-0208-4.
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Vibrant Health Naturopathic Medical Center


3 Riverside Drive
Greenland, NH 03840
(207) 536-9661


Mon: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Areas We Service:

Newburyport, MA, Kittery, ME, Portsmouth, NH, Exeter, NH, Hampton, NH, Hampton Falls, NH, Kingston, NH, New Castle, NH, Newfields, NH, North Hampton, NH, Rye, NH, Stratham, NH, Dover, NH, Newington, NH