Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks


Chinese Herbs
Herbs for Diabetes
Type II
by Brian Benjamin Carter, MS, LAc

Table of Contents:

Q: What are some good herbs for diabetes?


All of the following info is based on research. See the references at the end of the article.

Typical Western (M.D.) Diabetes Treatments and Side Effects

Along with the usual lifestyle recommendations for Diabetes Type II (exercise, weight control, and diet therapy), MD's prescribe glucose-lowering drugs and insulin injections. Glucose-lowering drugs can have adverse effects like severe hypoglycemia, lactic acidosis, idiosyncratic hepatocellular (liver cell) injury, permanent neurologic deficit, digestive discomfort, headache, dizziness, and death.

Herbs for Diabetes

There are some proven alternatives to glucose-lowering drugs. One hypoglycemic herb, Galega oficianalis, was integral to the development of Metformin. They may not all be potent enough to replace anti-diabetic drugs, but comprehensive Chinese herbal therapy may be. Many of the herbs were taken in combination with oral drug therapy, resulting in lowered glucose levels.

You should definitely consider herbs and drugs with the help and guidance of a physician or two - whatever kind of physician they are! (In California, acupuncturists are considered physicians)

Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic Herbs

Both Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine are systems of medicine. Each has its own herbs... for example, Ginseng and Dang Gui are Chinese Herbs. Prescriptions contain multiple herbs in specific proportions; each herb balances or enhances another. Western herbs, such as St. John's Wort, are generally used one at a time just like western drugs. Thus, there is more risk of side effects.

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Western Herbs for Diabetes Type II

Bitter Melon Dried powder 3-15g daily OR Standardized capsules 100-200mg 3 times per day
Alium Cepa (Onions) One 400mg capsule daily
Allium Sativum (Garlic) 4g Fresh or 8mg essential oil
Bilberry 80-160mg 3 times daily of 25% anthrocyanoside extract
Aloe Vera 1 tbsp juice twice daily
Salt Bush 3g per day

Ayurvedic Herbs from India for Diabetes Type II

Fenugreek 15g powdered, soaked in water; 10-100g daily
Gurmar (Gymnema Sylvestre) 400mg daily
Pterocarpus Marsupium 2-4g daily

Chinese Herbs for Diabetes Type II

Asian Ginseng (Panax) 1-3g of root or 200-600mg standardized extract
See the article
"Diabetes & Ginseng"
for more information before taking Ginseng
American Ginseng
Green Tea (No specific dosage recommended)
Quei Fu Di Huang Wan (formula) 26 mg/kg every 8 h, three times daily
Rou Gui or Fu Zi 50 mg/kg
Tang Niao Kang (formula) (No dosage specified)


Many Chinese herbs have the proven ability to lower glucose levels. However, they should be prescribed according to pattern discrimination (diagnosis). Your Chinese medical physician will diagnose you and then prescribe a personalized herbal formula or patent medicine that contains the appropriate herbs.

Here is a list of these proven chinese diabetes herbs for your reference:

  • Jiang Can
  • Li Zhi He
  • Yu Mi Xu
  • Di Gu Pi
  • Bai Zhu (atractylodes)
  • Cang Zhu
  • Fu Ling
  • Gen Gen
  • Gou Qi Zi
  • He Shou Wu (polygonum)
  • Hu Zhang
  • Huang Bai
  • Huang Jing
  • Huang Qi (astragalus)
  • Mai Men Dong
  • Mai Ya
  • Ren Shen (panax ginseng)
  • Sang Ye
  • Shan Zhu Yu
  • Shan Yao (diascorea)
  • Sheng Di (raw rehmannia)
  • Tian Hua Fen
  • Wu Bei Zi
  • Xian He Cao
  • Yin Yang Huo
  • Yu Zhu
  • Ze Xie
  • Zhi Mu

Minerals for Diabetes Type II

Chromium Picolinate 500mcg twice daily
Vanadium 100mg per day
Magnesium (No dosage recommended)

One study proved that it couldn't just be mineral content in herbs that lowers glucose levels. Another suggested that alternative medicine practitioners should not change a patient's insulin dosage. Not only is it illegal, but it's dangerous, and has resulted in patient going into diabetic comas.

How to Take These Herbs

I would advise against combining the herbs listed above without professional advice. Please see an herbalist trained for years and certified by some licensing or professional body before taking any herbs. Herbs could interact with your medications, or with one another. Each of these three traditions has wisdom, experience, and research behind their


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