We are in the midst of a diabetes epidemic. Not only in the US, but around the world, type 2 diabetes has become frighteningly common. We know that obesity has contributed to this modern-day plague. What many people may not realize is that medications could also be contributing. You will discover that statins can cause diabetes. This likely comes as a great shock to the tens of millions of people taking atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin. Here is an article (March 21, 2019) about the most recent research on this topic (British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, March 5, 2019). When blood glucose goes up, bad things happen. That why it is essential to get blood glucose under control. While drugs can be very useful in lowering high blood sugar, there are many non-drug approaches to control your blood sugar. Have you thought about turmeric?
How Do You Control Your Blood Sugar Naturally?
This reader found that the yellow spice in curry and yellow mustard made a difference in blood sugar control:
Q. My doctor recently diagnosed me with diabetes. I don’t want to deal with pills and shots, so I started experimenting. Through trial and error, I found that turmeric controls my blood sugar.
I don’t like the taste or smell, but if I sprinkle some ground turmeric on my food at dinner in the evening, my blood sugar reading the following morning is just where it should be. This works great!
A. Turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, may indeed help you control your blood sugar. That is the conclusion of a systematic review of the “Effects of Medicinal Food Plants on Impaired Glucose Tolerance,” (Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, Sept. 2017). The authors write in doctorspeak. Here is their description of what they did:
“We performed a systematic review to determine the efficacy and safety of MFPs [medicinal food plants] for the treatment of impaired glucose tolerance. After extensive literature searching, ten RCTs [randomized controlled trials] could be included. For curcumin significant effects after OGTT [oral glucose tolerance testing] on 2hr plasma glucose were found, as well as on FPG [fasting plasma glucose], HbA1c and HOMA-IR [insulin resistance]. The RCT with curcumin is the most valid study with low risk of bias.”
“The two-hour fasting plasma glucose after the curcumin extract intervention showed statistical significance after 3, 6 and 9months. Also, glycosylated haemoglobin levels A1c (HbA1c) values after curcumin extract intervention showed statistical significance after 3, 6 and 9months. Insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) after curcumin extract intervention showed statistical significance after 6months and after 9months.”
“Curcumin has shown the confident results to be effective for the treatment of impaired glucose tolerance.”
Curcumin and the Complications of Diabetes:
The real worry with diabetes is the complications of this metabolic condition. Inflammation and cardiovascular damage are serious consequences of elevated blood glucose. A study in Phytotherapy Research (online, March 12, 2019) suggests that curcumin may have several benefits when it comes to type 2 diabetes:
Here is what the investigators did:
“Curcumin, which is a natural polyphenol found in turmeric, can be used in treatment of diabetes complications for its antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. In this double-blind randomized clinical trial, 44 patients with Type 2 diabetes randomly assigned to curcumin or placebo group. Patients consumed either 1,500-mg curcumin or placebo daily for 10 weeks.”
Here is what they discovered:
“The results of the current study indicate that curcumin consumption may reduce diabetes complications through decreasing TG [triglyceride] level as well as indicators of inflammation.”
One of the markers of inflammation that the researchers measured was high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. It came down in the group taking curcumin.
Other Spices That Can Help You Control Your Blood Sugar:
Turmeric (which makes curry yellow) is not the only spice that can help control your blood sugar (Kato et al, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, March 2017). According to the researchers, consuming curcumin, an active compound in turmeric, might allow you to lower the dose of your diabetes medicines. You might want to try cinnamon and fenugreek as well (Yilmaz et al, Journal of Pharmacy Practice, online Sep. 11, 2016).
In addition, finishing your meal with a salad dressed with vinaigrette can be a useful tactic, since vinegar will help you control your blood sugar (Lim et al, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, Aug. 2016). You can learn even more about nondrug approaches to type 2 diabetes as well as find out about some popular medications for blood sugar control in our Guide to Managing Diabetes.
Anyone who would like a print copy of this 8-page guide, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. DM-11, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Plant-Based Products to Control Your Blood Sugar:
We recently spoke with Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and editor of Mind Over Meds: Know When Drugs Are Necessary, When Alternatives Are Better-And When to Let Your Body Heal on Its Own. Dr. Weil suggested that numerous plant-based products from around the world offer people with diabetes nondrug options for blood sugar control.
Crucial Advice for Anyone with Diabetes:
No matter whether you are relying on medication or are trying one or more of these interesting nondrug approaches, be sure to monitor your blood glucose levels. Keep your doctor informed of your progress. Also, pay attention to your exercise and your diet, as they can have important effects on your blood sugar.
Warnings About Turmeric:
Taking either turmeric or curcumin every day for blood sugar control is risky for anyone taking warfarin (Coumarin). The combination can boost INR levels into the danger zone.
It is not clear whether turmeric is equally incompatible with other anticoagulants, but it makes sense to be wary. Keep in mind, too, that turmeric, cinnamon and numerous other plant-based products can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. If you break out in hives, discontinue the supplement!
If you would like to learn more about turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary and many other spices, you may find our book Spice Up Your Life: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life of great interest.