Herbal Treatment of Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes

The plant kingdom has many hypoglycemic plants. They have much to contribute to a comprehensive management program of non-insulin dependent diabetes. Insulin dependent will rarely respond well to hypoglycemics, as the Islets of Langerhans are largely incapable of working. Herbs will not replace insulin therapy where it is necessary. Laboratory screenings, similar to those for cytotoxic plants, have demonstrated the reality of plant hypoglycemics. Many hundreds have been documented. Examples from Europe include :

Bilberry (Vaccinium mytillus)

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Goat’s Rue (Galega officinalis)

Mulberry Leaves (Morus nigra)

Olive Leaves (Olea europaea)


Interestingly Goat’s Rue is also an effective galactagogue, hinting at a possible pituitary or hypothalamus activity. Remember that gentle endocrine stimulation is one of the properties of the bitters, and in some people they can be dramatically effective in lowering blood sugar.



Many plants well known to students of this course have been shown to have experimental hypoglycemic effects to a greater or lesser degree. The mechanisms are not always clear. Listed here are some examples cited in:



Lewis and Elvin-Lewis, (1977). Medical Botany. John Wiley & Sons, New York

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Cashew (Anacardium occidentale)

Cayenne (Capsicum minimum)

Celery (Apium graveolens)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

Ginseng (Panax ginseng)

Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Gravel Root (Eupatorium purpureum)

Oats (Avena sativa)

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)

Pill bearing Spurge (Euphorbia pilulifera)

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)


The challenge for the practitioner is the appropriate application of the hypoglycemics. Such remedies can sometimes have a rapid impact on blood sugar levels, but one that varies from patient to patient. Their safe use can only occur when part of a comprehensive diabetes management program that is suitable for that individual. It is essential that very close observation be kept on urine and blood signs. This necessitates skilled practitioner straining the patient. The practicalities of this are beyond what can be adequately covered in this here, and so no protocols involving hypoglycemics will be given.



Herbal preventive work to avoid the various long-term complications maybe undertaken quite safely, even if no attempt is made to deal with insulin levels. Attention should be given to the cardio-vascular system for the reasons discussed above. Heart and vascular tonics are appropriate for long-term use, especially Crataegus spp., Ginkgo biloba, Vacciniummyrtillus.

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David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

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