The goal of treatment for diabetes is to control and lower blood sugar. You can do this with medication, diet and exercise. Recently certain nutritional supplements have been shown to lower blood sugar naturally. As a doctor, I have seen people with Type 2 diabetes come off their medications after adopting healthier lifestyle choices, but this is not a common scenario. The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure certainly applies here – these 5 natural supplements may help keep you healthy and free of medication.
# 1 Soluble fiber
Soluble fiber is a form of fiber that swells with water and slows your stomach emptying. Carbs will digest slower so your blood sugar stays lower longer. Soluble fiber has been found to lower cholesterol as well, making this especially useful because of the high risk of heart disease in diabetics. If you eat a low fiber diet start these slowly to avoid upsetting your stomach.
* Beta-Glucan from oats and barley: 3-10 grams per day
* Psyllium husk from supplements: 10 grams or more per day
# 2 Cinnamon
Cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar in some Type 2 Diabetics but seems to work better in pre-diabetics. Some studies have shown improved cholesterol levels as well.
Dose: 2-6 grams whole cinnamon daily – this is about a heaping teaspoon
* alternatively can use cinnamon extract – make sure it is a standardized water soluble extract, take with meals
# 3 Pycnogenol
Pycnogenol is a patented extract of French maritime pine bark. Pycnogenol can be on the expensive side.
– Very safe and powerful antioxidant
– Shown to improve blood flow and ulcer healing in diabetics
– Shown to lower blood sugar, LDL "bad" cholesterol, and blood pressure
Dose: 100-150mg Pycnogenol daily
# 4 Prickly Pear Cactus
– Works as "anti-hyperglycemic" so stops after meal sugar rise
– Shown to work on Type 2 diabetics that are on medications
– Does NOT work if already on insulin
– Unclear mechanism of action
Dose: Up to 400mg Prickly Pear Cactus daily
# 5 Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha Lipoic Acid is something I take myself – it is an excellent antioxidant even if you don't have diabetes.
– Appears to improve insulin sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes
– Shown to stop DNA damage that occurs from exercise
– May help diabetic nerve pain
Dose: 600mg – 1800mg Alpha Lipoic Acid daily
Any effort to lower blood sugar naturally should be discussed with your doctor if you have diabetes and are already on medications, especially if you are on insulin. The greatest risk of lowering blood sugar is getting it too low, and this risk increases on medications and insulin.