Herbs, and Spices in the Control of Blood Glucose Levels

neurosomatic By neurosomatic, 7th Jun 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Alternative Medicine

For thousands of years, various cultures have used natural substances to lower blood glucose. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry described testing 49 of these. Only 10 were shown to be effective in this particular study design.

Glucose Uptake from Blood

Blood glucose level is under strict homeostatic control within a narrow range. If the level falls below normal levels are restored by its release from stores or by the production of “new glucose” in a process called gluconeogenesis. Conversely, after a meal, glucose is removed from the blood mainly by insulin- facilitated uptake. In Diabetes Mellitus 1 (juvenile diabetes) there is insufficient insulin while the tissues are responsive to insulin whereas in Diabetes Mellitus 2 there may or may not be sufficient insulin but the problem is usually one of a resistance to the effects of insulin. After a meal, in a healthy individual 90% of the glucose in the blood is transported into skeletal muscle- the muscle attached to our bones and joints which enable us to move. This is opposed to smooth muscle which makes up our organs or cardiac muscle present in the heart. The remaining 10% is taken up by the liver, fat cells and various types of cells which use glucose as their main source of fuel. However, the same glucose transporter is used in muscle and fat (GLUT-4), with a higher density in number in muscle as opposed to fat.

Herbs and Spices with Blood Glucose Lowering Activity

Several herbs cultivated over thousands of years as well as fungi such as yeast or mushrooms have been used to lower blood glucose or prevent its elevation. In a study in 2000 by Broadhurst, as reported in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 49 of these were tested in an in vitro mouse model. This experiment used adipose tissue (fat) to test the effectiveness of these herbs as opposed to muscle. However, since both muscle and fat use GLUT4 as their glucose transporter, their results are useful and can reasonably be extrapolated to muscle.

Eight Herbs and Spices and Two Species of Fungi Increase Glucose Uptake into Fat

They found 10 to increase glucose uptake into fat. These, in order of effectiveness were cinnamon, witch hazel, green and black teas, allspice (pimento), bay leaves, nutmeg, cloves, mushrooms, and brewer's yeast. Since then, further studies have been done; most frequently on cinnamon with strong support for these findings.

Relationship among Herbs, Stress Hormones and Glucose

The authors point out that this particular design did not have the power to show possible whole body ways in which these herbs could bring about blood glucose control. For example, some herbs that they tested might be effective in suppressing or reducing the effect of gluconeogenesis. Interestingly, ginseng and basil, which both tested negative for glucose uptake activity, are both known for their anti-stress effects; stress hormones are powerful stimulators of gluconeogenesis. Therefore, it is possible that despite this negative result in this particular study, basil and ginseng could prevent elevation of blood glucose, not by increasing uptake into cells but by preventing release of glucose into the blood by attenuating the effect of stress hormones on gluconeogenesis.


Blood Glucose, Cinnamon, Herbs, Insulin

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author avatar neurosomatic
A self-styled philosopher with academic training in the biomedical sciences. I'm that scientist that acknowledges that the anecdotal might be true even if there is no published data.

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author avatar dis-cover
11th Jun 2014 (#)

Excellent! Very useful and informative article.

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author avatar neurosomatic
13th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks Dis-cover! I'm glad you liked it!

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author avatar kant123
19th Oct 2014 (#)

Very informative article, thanks for sharing...this is very useful for diabetic people...

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author avatar neurosomatic
8th Dec 2014 (#)


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