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    What Plant Foods Are Used for Diabetes Treatment? continued...

    Most plant foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which are important to good health in people with diabetes. Some revealing new studies show that certain plant foods -- cinnamon, cloves, and coffee -- may actually aid in fighting inflammation and help insulin, the hormone that helps controls blood sugar. Studies have shown that cinnamon extracts can improve sugar metabolism, triggering insulin release, which also affects cholesterolmetabolism. Clove oil extracts (eugenol) have been found to improve the function of insulin and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. Recent findings indicate that an unknown compound in coffee (not caffeine) may enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

    Still, the scientific evidence thus far does not support the role of garlic, ginger, ginseng, hawthorn, or nettle in benefiting blood sugar control in people with diabetes. If you have diabetes and are considering taking any of these herbal substances for diabetes treatment, be sure you talk to your doctor before you take them.

    What Weight Control Substances Are Used for Diabetes Treatment?

    The following plant foods are sometimes used for diabetes treatment, particularly for those with type 2 diabetes.

    Since weight and diabetes are linked, many people with diabetes turn to natural alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, particularly those that claim to help with weight loss, including:

    • Chitosan
    • Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid)
    • Chromium
    • Pyruvate
    • Germander
    • Momordica charantia (Chinese bitter melon)
    • Sauropus androgynus (sweet leaf bush)
    • Aristolochic acid

    In addition, transdermal (skin patch) systems as well as oral sprays have been developed to purportedly reduce appetite and facilitate weight loss. One patch system uses homeopathic amounts of 29 different compounds to reduce appetite. What is the bottom line? There's not one published study available on its efficacy.


    Are Herbs Really Safe for Diabetes Treatment?

    In 2003, ephedrine -- also known as ma huang -- became the first herbal stimulant ever banned by the FDA. A popular component of over-the-counter weight loss drugs, ephedrine was found to have some benefits. However, the evidence of its ability to cause harm was far more compelling. In high doses, ephedrine has been known to cause insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep), high blood pressure, glaucoma, and urinary retention. This herbal supplement has also been associated with numerous cases of stroke.

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