Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, High Blood Sugar, and Insulin Resistance

In past blogs, I have discussed several vitally important herbs, foods, and supplements traditionally used and now well researched to increase insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management thus generating great benefits for diabetes – especially non-insulin dependent or type 2 diabetes. Note, diabetes is a rapidly escalating disorder and more than 92% is non-insulin dependent or type 2 diabetes. Also, all the ingredients or substances I discuss are good for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood sugar, and most benefit insulin resistance. Some of the vitally important previous discussed therapeutic remedies include:

  • Stress level of whole B-Complex vitamins taken with or after meals that contain some healthy protein
  • Nutritional Yeast/Good Tasting Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevesia) — yeast made for humans and other animals consumption;
  • Chromium — an important trace mineral;
  • Cinnamon bark (Cinnamoni cassiae, cortex ) Chinese name is Rou Gui;
  • Eleuthero root (also known as Siberian Ginseng) or Eleutherococcus senticosus root from Siberia which is described by Dr. I.I. Breckman, M.D., Ph.D., the “father” of adaptogenic herbs, as a premier adaptogen;
  • An herb root Rhodiola rosea native to mountainous areas in Asia, Russia and Europe, long used as an adaptogen. Make sure the species is rosea and it is the root;
  • Schizandra berries or fruit (Schizandra chinensis). A traditional herb of Chinese medicine (TCM or TOM), known as Wu Wei-Tzi or Five Flavors Berry;
  • Devil’s Club Root Bark (Oplopanax horridum), 3- 9 grams in decoction total/day or 1 dropperful 3/day before meals;
  • Gynema root (Gynema sylvestre), 3- 9 grams in decoction total/day or 1 dropperful 3/day before meals.

Note: any and all of the above herbs are best taken in tea-decoction, or tincture, or standardized extract form!

More therapeutic substances that have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management:

1. Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum burmannii or Cinnamoni cassiae, cortex, Chinese name is Rou Gui) is a potent extract harvested from Indonesian cinnamon bark that has been shown to effectively assist in managing blood sugar after a carbohydrate-rich meal while increasing glucose metabolism by up to 10 fold. (1-3)

2. The second ingredient is a rare plant alkaloid called Berberine
that has been used for centuries by healers in India. Berberine works slightly differently, by improving the signaling between insulin and its associated receptors while also increasing glucose uptake by skeletal muscle, not fat.(4-7) The alkaloid berberine is also found in the strong, therapeutic U.S. herbs goldenseal root, barberry root, and Oregon grape root.

3. Pterocarpus marsupium is so effective that it was shown in a recent research study to reduce blood sugar levels 2 hours after a meal by a whopping 21%. (8-12)

4. Another exotic ingredients is 4-hydroxyisoleucine, a natural phytochemical extracted from the Fenugreek herb that has been shown to increase glycogen storage while decreasing fat storage through the sensitizing of insulin receptors in muscle tissue. (13)

4-hydroxyisoleucine can also inhibit some of the absorption of sugars and starchy carbohydrates through the intestine into the blood stream.14 This helps decrease the glycemic response to carbohydrate meals, helping keep blood sugar balanced.

5. R-Alpha-Lipoic-Acid or simply R-ALA. Alpha Lipoic Acid is made up of two isomers, S-ALA and R-ALA, of which the R isomer has been shown to be significantly more effective and bioavailable.15 The R isomer is a compound that has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity by an impressive 25%
in just 4 weeks while increasing the presence of glucose transporters in cell membranes to aid in the rapid clearance of glucose from the blood stream. (16)

Learn much more in both our NHI Certified Clinical Master Herbalist (CCMH) Program which is on Wednesday nights and equally important in our Certified Nutritionist Consultant (CNC) Program which is on Tuesday nights. You can join either or both programs at anytime. and/or take individual modules or nights. See our NHI Schedule for more information.

Steve’s References
1.Anderson RA, Broadhurst CL, Polansky MM, Schmidt WF, Khan A, Flanagan VP, Schoene NW, Graves DJ. Isolation and characterization of polyphenol type-A polymers from cinnamon with insulin-like biological activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jan 14;52(1):65-70.
2.Jarvill-Taylor KJ, Anderson RA, Graves DJ. A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Aug;20(4):327-36.
3.Hlebowicz J, Darwiche G, Bjorgell O and Almer LO. Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 85: 1552-1556.
4.Rayasam GV, et al. Identification of berberine as a novel agonist of fatty acid receptor GPR40. Phytother Res. 2010 Aug;24(8):1260-3.
5.Zhang H, Wei J, Xue R, Wu JD, Zhao W, Wang ZZ, Wang SK, Zhou ZX, Song DQ, Wang YM, Pan HN, Kong WJ, Jiang JD. Berberine lowers blood glucose in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients through increasing insulin receptor expression. Metabolism. 2010 Feb;59(2):285-92.
6.Kong WJ, Zhang H, Song DQ, Xue R, Zhao W, Wei J, Wang YM, Shan N, Zhou ZX, Yang P, You XF, Li ZR, Si SY, Zhao LX, Pan HN, Jiang JD. Berberine reduces insulin resistance through protein kinase C-dependent up-regulation of insulin receptor expression. Metabolism. 2009 Jan;58(1):109-19.
7.Jun Yina,b,*, Huili Xinga, and Jianping Yeb. Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Metabolism. 2008 May ; 57(5): 712-717.
8.Sawhney, P.L. and Seshadri, T.R. 1956. Special chemical components of commercial woods and related plant materials: Part IV – Phenolic components of some Pterocarpus species. Journal of Science in India, Res. 15C, 154.
9.Dravya Gund Vigyan (Baidyanath Prakashan); Gaon Ki Aushadhi Ratna (Kalida) Part I and II, Bhavprakash Nighantu.
10.Dharmadhikari, S.D., Patki, V.P. and Dashputra, P.O. 1984. Study of mechanism of hypoglycaemia due to Pterocarpus marsupium. Abstr of paper presenled of XVIth Ann Conf.. Indian Pharmacol Soc., Ajmer, Dec. 28-30, 1983. Indian J Pharmacol 16, 61.
11.Ahmad F, Khan MM, Rastogi AK, Chaubey M, Kidwai JR. Effect of (-)epicatechin on cAMP content, insulin release and conversion of proinsulin to insulin in immature and mature rat islets in vitro. Indian J Exp Biol. 1991 Jun;29(6):516-20.
12.Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Collaborating Centres, New Delhi. Flexible dose open trial of Vijayasar (Pterocarpus marsupium) in cases of newly-diagnosed non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Indian J Med Res 1998 Nov;108:253
13.Ruby BC, Gaskill SE, Slivka D, Harger SG. The addition of fenugreek extract (Trigonella foenum-graecum) to glucose feeding increases muscle glycogen resynthesis after exercise. Amino Acids. 2005 Feb;28(1):71-6. Epub 2004 Dec 2.
14.Hannan JM, Ali L, Rokeya B, Khaleque J, Akhter M, Flatt PR, Abdel-Wahab YH. Soluble dietary fibre fraction of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seed improves glucose homeostasis in animal models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes by delaying carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and enhancing insulin action. Br J Nutr. 2007 Mar;97(3):514-21.
15.Hermann R, Niebch G, Borbe HO, et al. Enantioselective pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of different racemic alpha-lipoic acid formulations in healthy volunteers. Eur J Pharm Sci. 1996;4:167-174.
16.Jacob S, Rett K, Henriksen EJ, Haring HU. Thioctic acid–effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose-metabolism. Biofactors. 1999;10(2-3):169-174.

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