Throughout history, numerous cultures have heavily relied on herbs and plants for medicinal purposes. Modern medicine is now looking at how these traditional sources can be used to manage and treat diabetes – either along with conventional medications or on their own. The purity and source of an herb is crucial for efficacy and to minimize any possible side effects. Professional guidance is always advised when using these herbal remedies.
When it comes to diabetes, many common herbs and spices are claimed to treat this disease. In this article, we’ll talk about the so-called ‘Insulin Plant’ and how to use it. We’ll also discuss other herbal therapies that have been shown in some studies to have anti-diabetic properties.
Insulin Plant: What Is It?
Chamaecostus cuspidatus (common name spiral flag or fiery costus) is a species of herbaceous plant in the Costaceae family native to eastern Brazil. In India, it is known as ‘insulin plant’ for its purported anti-diabetic properties.
Chamaecostus cuspidatus has large, fleshy-looking leaves. The underside of these smooth, large dark green leaves has a light purple shade. The leaves are spirally arranged around the stem, forming arching clumps arising from underground rootstocks. The maximum height of these plants is around two feet. The flowers are orange in color and are around 1.5in in diameter.
What does the science say?
Numerous studies have been conducted to check the diabetes-controlling effect of this insulin plant. In fact, 17 different studies have been carried out on animals and animal tissue – these studies have shown that extracts from the leaves of the insulin plant successfully reduced blood sugar levels.
As for human studies, this is where research is yet to catch up. So far, one study conducted on persons with diabetes found that chewing on one fresh leaf of the insulin plant – or consuming 1 teaspoon of the dried leaf powder daily – helps regulate blood sugar levels in persons with diabetes. The authors of this study recommended that since they observed the effects kicking in from the 15th day of consumption, it’s important for the leaf to be taken regularly for the benefits to take effect.
How to Use Insulin Plant Leaves for Diabetes
Experts recommend taking insulin plant leaves regularly. As mentioned in the abovementioned study, chewing on one fresh leaf of the insulin plant – or consuming 1 teaspoon of the dried leaf powder daily – helps regulate blood sugar levels in persons with diabetes.
How to Grow Insulin Plant at Home
Wondering if you can plant and grow the insulin plant at home? The answer is: Yes, you can.
However, there are a few do’s and don’ts when growing insulin plant at home. Below, we provide a step-by-step guide as to how you can successfully grow it.
- Look for the ideal location. To reap the best foliage and to ensure that your plant flourishes for a long time, make sure to choose the best location. Ideally, look for a place that gets enough sunlight, but has partial shade as well. Also, it might fascinate you to learn that the insulin plant is a sucker for moisture both in the soil and air, so planting it near water isn’t a problem!
- Potting depth. You don’t have to dig too deep to pot your insulin plant. Digging around 2-3 inches of depth is enough to allow the plant to grow.
- Choose the best soil. There’s a reason why the insulin plant is known as an easy-to-maintain herb. It can adjust to various soil quality and textures – from loamy soil texture to sand, clay, alkaline, or acidic – the plant can endure it all. However, insulin plant thrives really well in soil that’s rich and well-drained. To ensure optimum foliage, add compost to the soil and make it better. Also, you can add fertilizers to double the potency of the soil.
And that’s it! The insulin plant doesn’t require much maintenance – just make sure that the soil isn’t brimming with water. Also, the plant blossoms best in temperatures ranging from 35 – 45 degrees.
Other Herbal Therapies for Diabetes
Aside from the insulin plant, many medicinal plants and herbs have also been shown to have anti-diabetic properties.
- American Ginseng. American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) appears to lower blood sugar levels by enhancing insulin secretion. One study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took American ginseng before or with their meals experienced a moderate reduction in blood sugar levels after the meal.
- Garlic and Onions. The use of garlic and onions to reduce blood sugar levels has been popular in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. These plants contain the sulfur compounds allyl propyl di sulphide and allicin which have chemical structures similar to insulin, and are therefore believed to reduce blood sugar levels.
- Ginkgo Biloba. For persons with type 2 diabetes who were poorly managed on metformin, the addition of Ginkgo Biloba extract was effective in improving treatment outcomes.
- Turmeric. Turmeric (curcumin) or “Luyang Dilaw” in the Philippines, is a commonly used food spice that has been traditionally used for pain and wound healing. However, research has shown that curcumin may be more powerful than the common diabetes medication – Metformin – in improving insulin sensitivity and helping to reverse type 2 diabetes.
- Bitter Gourd. Bitter Gourd (Momordica charantia) – also known as bitter melon – best known as Amplaya in the Philippines, has attracted considerable interest for its ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Lagerstoemia Speciosa. Commonly known as Banaba in the Philippines, this plant has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin action.
- Silymarin. Silymarin (milk thistle) is an herb that has been used to treat liver diseases for many years. However, recent research has show that silymarin reduces insulin resistance, significantly decreases fasting insulin levels, and lowers liver enzyme levels better than patients taking metformin.
- Cinnamon. Cinnamon is a popular spice that has demonstrated an ability to increase insulin sensitivity. It has also been shown to reduce both cholesterol and blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a lifelong, chronic condition that can be managed with the right diet, exercise, and medications. However, if you’re looking for a treatment alternative, there are several herbs and plants that have been shown in some studies to have anti-diabetic properties.
One popular herb that’s being used to manage diabetes is Chamaecostus cuspidatus – also known as the insulin plant. Experts recommend taking insulin plant leaves regularly. Chewing on one fresh leaf of the insulin plant – or consuming 1 teaspoon of the dried leaf powder daily – helps regulate blood sugar levels in persons with diabetes.
Other herbal therapies for diabetes include turmeric, gingko biloba, silymarin, cinnamon, banaba, bitter gourd, garlic and onions, and American ginseng.
Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All information contained on this web site is for general information purposes only.