Natural medicine and diabetes

Plants have been used for many centuries to treat diabetes. There are reports in various parts of the world of the use of legumes, roots, flowers, leaves, extracts and oils for this purpose. Even in modern medicine, several of the drugs we use on a daily basis to treat diabetes have a pharmacological origin from plants. For example; metformin is a molecular derivative of galegin that is extracted from Galega officinalis (Ruda cabruna); The gliflozins (canagliflozin, dapagliflozin or empagliflozin), which are currently one of the best antidiabetic drugs, are molecular derivatives of phlorizin, a glycoside that is extracted from the bark of apple trees.

From the field of herbalism, several plants have been attributed benefits in the control of patients with diabetes. They stand out among all: trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek), momordica charantia (bitter melon), silybum marianum (milk thistle); These have multiple clinical trials in diabetic patients in which they have been shown to help reduce fasting blood glucose levels and after meals, as well as lower glycosylated hemoglobin levels.

Other plants have shown antidiabetic benefits, unfortunately they have much less studies and therefore, the evidence is less. Aegle marmelos, allium cepa (red onion), gymnema sylvestre, nigella sativa (black seed), ocimum sanctum (holy basil), panax quinquefolius (American ginseng), and salacia reticulate to name a few.

What stops us from using natural options in our practices? Although they already have several studies, many have methodological errors or an insufficient number of patients that prevent us from generalizing these results; In addition, we lack a lot of information regarding its safety. Many of the plants we mention cause gastrointestinal discomfort, some can cause severe damage to the liver or kidneys, and several have been associated with abortions. We still have a long way to go about their deleterious effects on the body when taken for a long time.

Points to take into account:

– Not because they are natural medicines means they are harmless. Before consuming a natural product for medicinal purposes, find out about its adverse effects and talk to your doctor about the benefits, risks and interactions with other medications.

– Plants also have correct ways to consume them. Find out if you should use the seeds, the leaves, the fruits or a particular extract; also take into account the recommended doses. Although there are professionals who are dedicated to herbalism in Guatemala; Most “naturopathic doctors” are neither doctors nor properly trained. Be wary of preparations in capsules, pills or oils that do not comply with all regulations and health records.

– In no case do these plants replace the medications prescribed by your doctor, nor do they replace the care in diet, exercise and weight control that every patient with diabetes should have.

Dr. César Rodolfo Caballeros Barragán Medical Endocrinologist, Active Member of the Guatemalan Association of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition

Dr. César Rodolfo Caballeros Barragán Medical Endocrinologist, Active Member of the Guatemalan Association of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition

There is not a cure for diabetes. If someone offers you a natural medicine that will cure you permanently, they are cheating you.

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