Type 2 diabetes is usually treated with medications, but the risk/benefit ratio of the newer ones may be dubious (as we wrote here and here). That’s especially the case when the expense is factored in.
This form of diabetes also responds favorably to dietary changes (less starch and sugar), exercise and supplements. In addition to these healthful lifestyle changes, certain dietary supplements may help. Here is one reader’s report on a supplement you may not be familiar with, bitter melon.
Could Bitter Melon Lower Blood Sugar?
Q. A family friend told us that bitter melon could help reduce blood sugar.
We went to our local health food store and bought a bottle containing 30 capsules for $17.99. It’s pricey, but it seems to work!
My husband takes metformin and glyburide for diabetes. After adding this supplement his blood sugar level was down considerably.
A. While the idea is appealing combining herbs with diabetes drugs can be risky. Blood sugar levels could drop too low, causing hypoglycemia.
Your husband will need to monitor his blood glucose very carefully and stay in close touch with his physician.
What Is Bitter Melon?
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is a tropical relative of the cucumber. Several short-term studies suggest that it may indeed help reduce blood sugar. A review points out that it has been studied extensively in animals and tissue culture (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Feb. 21, 2014). Probable explanations for its effects have also been explored (Journal of Lipids, online Jan. 10, 2015).
Long-term safety has not been established. Children or pregnant women should not use it.
On the other hand, some research suggests that bitter melon might be able to reduce the risk of cancer as well as diabetes (Raina et al, Seminars in Cancer Biology, Oct. 2016). Rat research indicates that it may help protect the heart in diabetics (Czompa et al, Molecules, March 20, 2017).
Other Supplements for Blood Sugar
You can learn more about foods and supplements that may be helpful in controlling high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes such as cinnamon, coffee, fenugreek and nopal cactus in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.