Herbs to counteract too much sugar

Written by jolene lewis
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Herbs to counteract too much sugar
Nature offers sugar-busters if you overindulge in sweet treats. (cream cake and fruit cake image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com)

Ingesting too much sugar may result in hyperglycaemia or elevated blood sugar levels. In some predisposed individuals, unchecked periodic hyperglycaemia leads to chronic elevated sugar serum levels and eventually diabetes. Nature's pharmacopoeia offers herbs from around the world that can help your body to combat the effects of excess sugar, whether you have eaten too much at a potluck or have chronic hyperglycaemia or diabetes.

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Classified by Linnaus as Curcuma longa in the late 1700s, turmeric is a rhizome, or root, native to India. Used as a culinary ingredient since 3000 B.C., the root helps regulate blood sugar, among a host of other therapeutic actions. Turmeric also has antibacterial and anticarcinogenic properties; when taken regularly, it will protect the entire digestive tract.

Bitter Melon

Indigenous peoples around the world use bitter melon -- the fruit of a climbing vine native to tropical areas of East Africa, South America and Asia -- as a contraceptive, and to treat diabetes and cancer. Different parts of the plant, including the root, stem, leaf, and fruit, are used to treat varying ailments and traditionally, the fruit juice is taken to reduce blood sugar and treat diabetes. In October 2010, "Cancer Science" reported the results of a clinical study by researchers from the Nagoya Graduate School of Medical Sciences in which bitter melon was found to have prostate cancer tumour suppressor activity.


The first recorded use of fenugreek, a plant native to Africa, dates back to about 1,500 B.C. in Egypt, but most people know it as an accompaniment to turmeric and other culinary spices in Indian curry dishes. Traditional uses of fenugreek in India and Africa include inducing childbirth and increasing breast milk production. In November 2010, the "Journal of Experimental Biology" published a clinical study by researchers from the University College of Medical Sciences and G.T.B. Hospital in India, which found anti-hyperglygemic action in a compound extracted from fenugreek seeds.


Gymnema sylvestre -- an herb native to southern and Central India -- has a history as a traditional treatment for diabetes within the ayurvedic and naturopathic medical systems for 2,000 years. Commonly known as a "miracle fruit," it can reduce the taste of sweetness, helping the user to break free from craving sugary foods. Ancient ayurvedic texts note this herb's role in treating sugar in the urine (glycosuria). In September 2010, "Phytotherapy Research" published clinical results from researchers at Kings College London that confirmed the ability of Gymnema sylvestre to stimulate insulin secretion.


Cinnamon comes from an evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka, located off the southeast coast of India. In June 2010, the Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry published findings from a joint clinical study between the Laboratory of Nutrition and Physiology at Nihon University of Graduate School of Bioresource Studies and the Department of Clinical Dietetics and Human Nutrition at Josia University, which confirmed cinnamon to have anti-diabetic effects.

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