The following herbs, spices and nutrients have demonstrated their effectiveness in lowering blood sugar, boosting insulin sensitivity, reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol, and more.
And, if used as part of an diabetes nutritional program, these herbs and spices can help reverse Type 2 diabetes naturally.
In most cases, especially if you have any concerns about nutrient absorption and efficacy, consider using organic herbal tinctures to achieve maximum absorption and effectiveness.
Also, talk to you doctor before adding any new herbal supplement to your regimen, especially if it has the potential to lower your blood sugar or thin your blood.
The following is a list of the key herbs and spices that have demonstrated the ability to improve blood sugar levels within Type 2 diabetic patients and even help to reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Benefit: Basil is popular in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat diabetes.
In a study reported in the 2008 issue of "Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine," lead author Dr. M. Bhat found that basil can relieve postprandial hyperglycemia, an excessive rise in blood sugar after eating.
Basil inhibited a-amylase, an enzyme in saliva that breaks down starches into sugars, and it inhibited glucosidases, enzymes in the pancreas and intestines that break down complex carbohydrates into sugar.
Benefit: Protecting the eyes and nerves Typical dosage: 80 to 120 milligrams two times per day of standardized bilberry extract.
This relative of the blueberry contains powerful antioxidants in its fruit and leaves. These antioxidants, called anthocyanidins, seem to help prevent damage to tiny blood vessels that can result in nerve pain and retinopathy (damage to the eye’s retina).
Animal studies have also suggested that bilberry may lower blood sugar.
Benefit: Lowering blood sugar Typical dosage: 50 to 100 milliliters (approximately 3 to 6 tablespoons) of the juice daily.
The aptly named bitter melon is thought to help cells use glucose more effectively and block sugar absorption in the intestine. When Philippine researchers had men and women take bitter melon in capsule form for three months, they had slight, but consistently, lower blood sugar than those taking a placebo. Gastrointestinal problems are possible side effects.
Bitter melon provides antioxidant benefits that may decrease the damaging effects of high glucose levels in diabetes, according to the Department of Biological Sciences, Botswana College of Agriculture, Gaborone.
Lower levels of oxidation may protect nerves and prevent development of peripheral neuropathy. In the laboratory animal study, 30 days of supplementation with bitter melon increased antioxidant levels and decreased levels of harmful byproducts of oxidized lipids. Do not try herbal remedies without consulting your doctor first.
Benefit: Cayenne is an effective topical pain reliever; and, also provides benefits to the cardiovascular system.
In his 2003 book, "Medical Herbalism: the Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine," herbalist David Hoffmann recommends a topical cream of 0.025 or 0.075 percent capsaicin, an active ingredient in cayenne, to treat the pain of diabetic neuropathy.
Benefit: Lowering blood sugar Typical dosage: 5 to 30 grams with each meal or 15 to 90 grams with one meal per day.
These seeds, used in Indian cooking, have been found to lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce high cholesterol, according to several animal and human studies. The effect may be partly due to the seeds’ high fiber content. The seeds also contain an amino acid that appears to boost the release of insulin.
In one of the largest studies on fenugreek, 60 people who took 25 grams daily showed significant improvements in blood sugar control and post-meal spikes.
Benefit: Garlic has many "anti" properties including anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-cancer. As a result, garlic provides many health benefits to the following areas:
- Cardiovascular system: keeps blood vessels relaxed, prevents plaque formation, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol
- Immune system: kills bacteria, viruses, other pathogens
- Endocrine system: keeps blood sugars in the normal range
- General health: garlic contains sulfides, active enzymes (such as allicin, Vitamin C, selenium
Garlic acts against the oxidative stress and free-radical damage produced by high blood sugar. In the 2009 issue of "Nutrition Research and Practice," a report by lead author Dr. Y.M. Lee found that the antioxidants in garlic may prevent diabetic complications like heart and kidney disease.
The researchers also found that aged black garlic has higher levels of antioxidants than regular garlic, with a greater potential for preventing diabetic complications.
Tip: Let the garlic sit for 10-15 minutes after cutting it up to allow the enzymes to activate.
FYI: Actually, garlic is a vegetable, not an herb.
Benefit: Lowering blood sugar Typical dosage: 1 to 3 grams a day in capsule or tablet form, or 3 to 5 milliliters of tincture three times a day.
Known for its immune-boosting and disease-fighting benefits, this Chinese herb has several positive diabetes studies behind it. Researchers have found that ginseng slows carbohydrate absorption; increases cells’ ability to use glucose; and increases insulin secretion from the pancreas.
A team from the University of Toronto has repeatedly demonstrated that ginseng capsules lower blood glucose 15 to 20 percent compared to placebo pills.
Ginseng has potent anti-diabetic properties. In a study published in the 2009 issue of "Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine," Drs. J.Z. Luo and L. Luo found that the ginsenosides in ginseng work in two ways: they support beta cells in the pancreas, which produce and release insulin, and they reduce insulin resistance.
The authors conclude that ginseng root directly affects the pancreas and increases insulin production.
Benefit: Lowering blood sugar Typical dosage: 200 to 250 milligrams twice daily.
This plant’s Hindi name translates as “sugar destroyer,” and the plant is said to reduce the ability to detect sweetness. It’s regarded as one of the most powerful herbs for blood-sugar control.
It may work by boosting the activity of enzymes that help cells use glucose or by stimulating the production of insulin.
This herb may also help to regenerate or repair pancreatic beta cells, but, more research is needed in this area.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Benefit: Lowering blood sugar Typical dosage: If you eat it as a food, aim for 1⁄2 cup of cooked cactus fruit a day. Otherwise, follow label directions.
The ripe fruit of this cactus has been shown in some small studies to lower blood sugar levels. You may be able to find the fruit in your grocery store, but if not, look for it as a juice or powder at health food stores.
Researchers speculate that the fruit may possibly lower blood sugar because it contains components that work similarly to insulin. The fruit is also high in fiber.
Note: Refer to the Clinical Studies web page for more references about the diabetic health benefits of these herbs.
Here is a list of the top 10 herbs and spices, and their health benefits, especially to help with reversing your diabetes.
Note: These health benefits cannot be achieved unless the herbs and spices are fresh. Do not buy herbs and spices from your local grocery store -- most of them have been in storage for at least a year and have lost their potency.
Health Benefit: Can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Also, has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Aim for one-fourth to one-half teaspoon of cinnamon twice a day.
The two major types of cinnamon used in food preparation are Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is known as “true cinnamon” and is native to Sri Lanka.
Some websites say that you should avoid the Cassia cinnamon, because Cassia cinnamon contains a lot more coumarin, which can be toxic to your liver. However, this should not be a concern, unless you consume a tremendous amount of cinnamon.
However, we believe your biggest concern should be to get fresh cinnamon in order to reap its health benefits. Most store-bought cinnamon is at least a year old and may contain flour and other "fillers" to prevent it from caking.
Both Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon are taken from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, however Cassia cinnamon is typically darker and has a much more pungent flavor. Ceylon cinnamon is considered a more delicate spice because of it’s quality and sweeter taste.
Cassia cinnamon is hard and darker in color than Ceylon cinnamon, which is soft and brittle.
Tip: Dip berries or grapes in low-fat sour cream, then mix in 1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
Health Benefit: Destroys cancer cells and may disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells, says Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research. "Studies suggest that one or two cloves weekly provide cancer-protective benefits."
Tip: Let garlic sit for 10 to 15 minutes after chopping and before cooking so the active form of the protective phytochemicals develops. Sprinkle on top of a salad or sauté fresh garlic over low heat and mix with pasta, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.
Health Benefit: Can decrease motion sickness and nausea; may also relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Doses used in clinical trials range from 500 to 2,000 mg of powdered ginger. (A quarter-size piece of fresh root contains about 1,000 mg.)
Ginger can also hinder blood clotting, so if you're about to have surgery or are taking blood thinners or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor first.
Tip: For motion sickness, try having one or two pieces of crystallized, or candied, ginger. Make sure ginger is listed as an ingredient; some candied products or ginger ales contain a small amount or a synthetic form. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger to vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as fresh fruit (especially peaches).
Health Benefit: A USDA study found that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.
Tip: To spice up tomato soup, add 3/4 teaspoon oregano to 1 can; add 1/2 teaspoon to 2 cups pasta or pizza sauce. Substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano for 2 teaspoons fresh.
Health Benefit: Contains capsaicin, whose anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may lower the risk of cancer (also found in cayenne and red chili peppers). There's no specific recommended dose, but moderation is probably the best way to go.
Tip: Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme and 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper to liven up popcorn.
Health Benefit: Stops gene mutations that could lead to cancer and may help prevent damage to the blood vessels that raise heart attack risk.
Tip: For a delicious chicken rub, combine 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves with 2 teaspoons seasoning salt and 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves.
Health Benefit: Contains curcumin, which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Try to have 500 to 800 milligrams a day, but, combine with black pepper and some fat to increase absorption.
Tip: For an Indian flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric to water when cooking 1 cup rice.
The success of herbal products as healing agents depends on how active the ingredients are when ingested. Liquid extracts or tinctures offer many advantages; one being the benefits it has as an herbal delivery system. Herbal tinctures are the most rapidly and efficiently absorbed of any preparation and their effects are quickly felt.
Herbal tinctures are herbs in liquid form that have been processed in a way to preserve the herb's active constituents or ingredients, usually and most effectively using pure alcohol diluted with distilled water.
Capsules disintegrate and are digested in the stomach, while tinctures begin to be absorbed immediately upon entering the mouth. If the body is not digesting and assimilating well, the herbal benefits in pills or capsules are diminished as the digestive system must free the healing herbal ingredient from the capsule or tablet's fiber and cellulose. In instances of acute symptoms, liquid tinctures are most typically preferred over dried encapsulated remedies.
Although a tincture's taste can sometimes be 'overwhelming', many prefer this form of herbal medicines. The taste of an herb actually comes through and can be distinguished one from another. Most of us are so used to the most common tastes being sweet or salty that we may react negatively to tastes being pungent, bitter or sour.
A possible disadvantage may be that some people are sensitive or allergic to alcohol or choose to avoid it. If this is the case, the alcohol may be dissipated by putting the dose of tincture into an ounce of warm water for 20 - 30 minutes. Also, interestingly enough, the amount of alcohol in any given dose of alcohol based, herbal tincture is the same as in one ripe banana.
Herbal tinctures have 4 key advantages over pills and capsules.
1. Longevity & Stability: An herb, once tinctured will retain it's medicinal properties far longer than in most other preparations. Alcohol serves as an excellent preservative maintaining the integrity of the herb. Tinctures will last for many years compared to the shelf life of herbal capsules (1-12 months) or tablets (2-24 months). When properly stored in dark glass bottles, in a cool dark place, avoiding heat, sunlight and exposure to air, tinctures will keep are at least 5 years!
2. Convenient Storage: Unlike bulky raw materials, plastic bottles or jars containing 250, 500 or even 1000 capsules, or pints or liters of liquid, a 30 milliliter/once ounce, 60 milliliter/2 ounces or even a 120 milliliter/4 ounce bottle of tincture stores compactly. These bottles fit easily into a car first aid kit and a 1 ounce bottle with a dropper or spray top is perfect in a purse, pocket or briefcase when traveling.
3. Control of Freshness, Potency & Formulation: Freshness of the herb is of prime importance to the quality of the final tincture. The herbal tinctures we have available are made with the freshest organically grown, wild-crafted herbs. The correct interaction of menstruum (mixture of pure ethyl alcohol and distilled water) along with the dry or fresh herb, assures the herb's potency results. There is no mystery or complicated process involved in making liquid extracts, just high quality herbs .
Be assured, there are no additional ingredients in most tinctures. Check labels of capsules and tablets and find fillers, binders and other materials. Also, combinations of several herbs in one tincture often effectively deliver a greater healing power over an individual herb.
4. Ease of Administering: Tinctures are ready to administer with no further preparation. Drops may be dispensed directly to the back of the tongue or sprayed to the back of the throat. If desired, the extract may be added to warm or cold water, tea or juice.
Warning: Check with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before using herbs, as they may interact with your current medications.
Changing your eating habits to ensure you're getting enough critical nutrients to fight your diabetes can be difficult. The easiest way to make sure you are getting critical nutrients into every meal, even when you are grazing at the office cocktail party or the neighborhood potluck dinner is by choosing foods that are loaded with herbs and spices.
Every time you flavor your meals with fresh herbs or spices you are literally "upgrading" your food without adding a single calorie. You are taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary by adding color, flavor, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and often medicinal properties.
Here are the 7 major benefits of using herbs and spices with your Death to Diabetes Super Meals:
1. Herbs and spices maximize nutrient density. Herbs and spices contain antioxidants, minerals and multivitamins. At the cocktail party, choose the Thai chicken satay stick over the tried and true fried chicken strip.
2. Herbs and spices create a more thermogenic diet. Because spices are nutrient dense, they are thermogenic, which means they naturally increase your metabolism. As your metabolism revs higher you will burn more of the food you have already eaten as fuel, and store less as body fat. At the dinner party, finish off the meal with coffee or tea sprinkled with fresh cinnamon, which contains dozens of nutrients.
3. Some herbs and spices increase your feeling of fullness and satiety. As a result, you'll eat less. One study conducted at Maanstricht University in the Netherlands showed that when one consumes an appetizer with half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes before each meal, it decreased their calorie intake by 10-16%. If you're planning a holiday menu, think of starting with a tomato soup sprinkled with red pepper.
4. Herbs and spices allow you to eliminate salt. When you flavor your foods with fresh spices instead of salt you'll immediately see health and physical benefits. Excessive salt intake keeps water inside your body. Once you kick the habit you will no long have excessive bloating and water retention.
5. Herbs and spices help to eliminate cravings. That's because using salt begets using more salt: after a while it's impossible to use just a pinch, because you've trained your brain to require a salty taste for everything you eat. Over time, using spices will also lessen your cravings for simple, nutrient poor carbohydrate snacks because you will not be yearning for a savory, salty taste. Stay clear of the chips and dips and you're doing your brain and your body a big favor.
6. Herbs and spices are inexpensive. Most herbs and spices are relatively inexpensive, especially given the health benefits that they provide.
7. Herbs and spices have real medicinal properties. Study after study shows the benefits of distinct herbs and spices. One study at MalmÃ University Hospital in Sweden showed that up to two hours after eating, people who ate cinnamon-spiced rice pudding measured significantly lower blood-glucose levels than those who had eaten the unspiced version.
Other studies suggest that cinnamon may improve blood-glucose levels by increasing a person's insulin sensitivity. One 2003 trial of 60 people with type 2 diabetes reported that consuming as little as two teaspoons of cinnamon daily for six weeks reduced blood-glucose levels significantly.
It also improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, perhaps because insulin plays a key role in regulating fats in the body. So if you start adding spices to your diet now, you might be able to see real health benefits in the early months of the New Year.
Every little bit counts, so make sure that you use fresh herbs and spices with your meals. Choose flavor over blandness, and try to incorporate these specific herbs and spices into your diet.
Here are some ways to incorporate herbs and spices for specific health benefits:
- Rosemary and basil for their anti-inflammatory power
- Cumin and sage for their dementia-fighting power
- Cayenne and cinnamon for their obesity-fighting power
- Cayenne for heart disease and high choleserol
- Coriander and cinnamon for their sugar regulating powers
- Lemon grass, nutmeg, bay leaves and saffron for their calming effects on your mood
- Turmeric for its cancer fighting power
- Oregano for its fungus-beating power
- Garlic, mustard seed and chicory for their heart-pumping power
- Basil and thyme for their skin-saving power
- Turmeric, basil, cinnamon, thyme, saffron, and ginger for their immune-boosting power
- Coriander, rosemary, cayenne, allspice and black pepper for their depression-busting power
Use the following tips to ensure that you are purchasing quality herbs and spices:
- Avoid Grocery Store Spices
- Purchase Whole Spices and Grind Yourself
- Buy the Best Spices You Can Afford
- Avoid Gourmet Shops
- Buy Small Amounts of Spices at a Time
- Grow Your Own Spices
Avoid Grocery Store Spices
Products on the shelves of your average grocery chain my have been there for a year or more, and they probably sat in a warehouse up to a year before that. Since the average shelf life of ground spices maxes out around six months, chances are you’re buying stale spices.
Also, these spices are generally very poor quality and may contain fillers and contaminants.
Purchase Whole Spices
Purchase whole spices and grind them yourself to retain maximum potency and ensure a fuller flavor. Whole spices will stay fresher, longer. You know what you are getting with whole spices.
Since ground spices have such a short shelf life, chances are every ground spice in your cabinet right now is past it’s prime. Ground spices may have other ingredients such as salt, rice or flour mixed in and FDA regulations do not require suppliers to list these add-ins as ingredients. Also, ground spices are not required to be free of contaminants.
Buy the Best Spices You Can Afford
Cheap spices are cheap for a reason. The health regulations for ground spices are lax, with the ASTA (American Spice Trade Association) cleanliness specifications stating that “…it is not possible to grow, harvest, and process crops that are totally free of natural defects”.
These ‘defects’ include mold, excreta, dead insects, rat hairs, wire, string and a list of other ‘foreign matter’.
What percentage of this foreign matter may be in your pre-ground spices? It’s shocking, but up to 20% for some is still considered “acceptable”.
So what can you do to source better spices?
Go to Ethnic Markets. Often ethnic markets have good quality whole spices at affordable prices. They are selling spices that are used regularly and are re-stocked much faster than an average grocery store where spices may sit for much longer.
Of course ethnic markets can sell poor quality spices as well, but talk to the staff. Smell the spices and buy a small amount to try at home to see if you like them.
Source a local spice merchant. These spices shops nearly always guarantee quality and freshness. The best part? You can usually chat with the staff about how to incorporate their products into your cooking. Some may even have recipe cards to hand out.
Source Quality Spices Online. If you cannot locally source whole spices, consider purchasing online from a reliable company. There are many options out there. Examples: Penzey’s Spices, World Spice, Spice Trekkers (Canada), Mountain Rose Herbs, Cinnamon Hill.
Avoid gourmet shops selling regular spices at inflated prices. It happens plenty. If you’ve been to your local ethnic market and/or specialty spice merchant and experienced the real thing, you can usually just use your eyes and nose to identify the frauds. Most spices are incredibly pungent, and should never smell musty.
Buy Small Amounts of Spices at a Time
Spices are not the ingredients to be buying bulk for your home kitchen because they do go stale. Unless you are a very active cook and are heavy-handed with the spices, don't buy spices in bulk.
Remember, if you’re buying good quality spices, you won’t need to use as much for cooking as they will be much more potent than standard grocery store fare. A little goes a long way.
Grow Your Own Spices (If You Can)
The best solution for sourcing fresh herbs is to grow your own! Or buy from a friend or family member who has a garden. Hang bundles of fresh herbs upside down to dry, then fill mason jars with their fragrant leaves. Stored properly these herbs will last all winter.
If you would like to learn how to use herbs and spices to reverse your diabetes, then, get the ex-diabetic engineer's 3-in-1 Death to Diabetes Cookbook.
In addition, get the ex-diabetic's top-selling Death to Diabetes book and reach Chapters 6, 7, 14, 15 and 17.
If you have a juicer/blender or plan to get one, then, get the ex-diabetic's Power of Juicing ebook to help you reverse your diabetes.
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- University Of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- "Journal of the American Board of Family Practice"; Botanicals and Dietary Supplements in Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy; K. Halat, et al.; January 2003
- "Current Treatment Options in Neurology"; Treatment of Diabetic Sensory Polyneuropathy; L. Zilliox, et al.; April 2011
- "Alternative Medicine Review"; Peripheral Neuropathy: Pathogenic Mechanisms and Alternative Therapies; K. Head; December 2006
- "Journal of Medicinal Foods"; Momordica Charantia Maintains Normal Glucose Levels and Lipid Profiles and Prevents Oxidative Stress in Diabetic Rats Subjected to Chronic Sucrose Load; P. Chaturvedi P, et al.; June 2010
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