By Farah Khan
In Chinese Medicine, diabetes is considered to be a condition of disharmony in the body called Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome. Diabetics can often experience symptoms of severe thirst and hunger while losing weight. The ancient Chinese noticed these tendencies, and identified the condition according to its external symptoms, in spite of the fact that they could not determine a person's blood sugar levels at the time. There are many Chinese herbs that have been traditionally used for Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome. The beneficial effects of these herbs for diabetics are now being borne out by modern research being done in China.
One Chinese herb that shows promise in the treatment of diabetes in called mai men dong or ophiopogon. Research done in China has demonstrated that it can potentially stimulate regeneration of cells in the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. The cells in this part of the pancreas are responsible for the proper production of insulin, and therefore the proper processing of blood sugar in the body. Stimulating regeneration of these cells can potentially reverse diabetes in adult-onset diabetics.
Another Chinese herb that shows promise for people with high blood sugar is tian hua fen or trichosanthis. Tian hua fen has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in Chinese research studies. It is very commonly used in herbal formulas for diabetics. Other commonly used herbs include astragalus and Chinese wild yam.
An Asian vegetable which is also used as an herb, called bittermelon, or momordica charantia, has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics in studies done in China and in Thailand. This vegetable also may have antibacterial and antiviral properties. In Asia, it is being considered as a potential treatment for AIDS, HIV, and hepatitis C.
There are also other Chinese herbs that can be useful for the many symptoms associated with diabetes. The Chinese herbal formula Ming Mu Di Huang Wan is used in China for the vision problems that diabetics often experience. Other herbs can be used to improve blood circulation and stimulate healing. This can be very beneficial since diabetics often heal more slowly from cuts, wounds, and other injuries and also because they tend to have poorer circulation. Many of these herbs may be beneficial for diabetic neuropathy. Diabetics often have nerve pain or uncomfortable nerve sensations that can be alleviated with the use of herbs. Acupuncture can be beneficial for this as well.
As you can see, although the ancient Chinese could not easily monitor blood sugar levels in diabetics, many of the herbal treatments they used for people who exhibited the symptoms of this condition are being shown to be effective in modern research trials in other countries.
If you are diabetic and you are taking medication to control your blood sugar levels, it is best to have your blood sugar monitored while taking these herbs, and have your doctor adjust the dosage of your medications accordingly, so your blood sugar doesn't drop too drastically. It is likely that you will eventually be able to taper off of the herbs and medication, until you can control your disease primarily through diet and exercise.
Dr. Farah Khan, DOM is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine practicing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She offers information and products related to different health conditions at her web site at http://www.yinessence.com. Her product, GlucoSupport, can be found at http://www.yinessence.com/catalog/item/1142101/1374330.htm.