Diabetes, Insulin, AMPK, Berberine vs Metformin, Benfotiamine, Neuropathy
We estimate 422 million people are struggling with diabetes.
The concentration of glucose in the blood is our blood sugar level, blood sugar concentration, or blood glucose level.
Approximately 4 grams of glucose are present in the blood of a 154-pound human.
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We measure fasting blood glucose when we have an empty stomach, (typically in the morning prior to breakfast), while we measure postprandial blood glucose after completing meals.
Both measures are indicators of diabetes risk.
As we experience type 2 diabetes on the rise today, we notice an alarming trend of diabetes is common in children.
When either insulin resistance or insufficient insulin production takes place, Type 2 diabetes risks increase.
And the result is an imbalance in blood glucose levels.
Common medications managing blood sugar levels, when lifestyle changes are insufficient include:
- Insulin therapy
- Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza)
While there is no cure, a healthy diet, physical activity, and managing body weight are often the most effective treatment method and can often replace medication.
While avoiding insulin resistance, we improve insulin sensitivity, which means our body requires less insulin to lower blood sugar.
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Along with lifestyle changes, these are the top natural supplement options to control blood sugar, lower insulin resistance, and prevent diabetes-related effects such as neuropathic pain.
The Top 9 Proven Natural Blood Sugar Supplements
As a chemical compound found in various plants such as goldenseal and Oregon grape, berberine is the king of blood sugar supplements.
Berberine consistently tests superior to others for glucose metabolism and weight loss.
It performed equally to the prescription drug Metformin, while also lowering lowered lipids.
Delivering its actions through activation of 5’ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, AMPK, berberine speeds up the master metabolic switch in the body, which controls cellular energy homeostasis.
400 to 500 mg at the beginning of each meal. AMPK-agonists, whether it is berberine or metformin, can cause muscle atrophy in healthy individuals. Because of this, lower doses might be more advisable.
It is rare we see a single plant perform as effectively as its Rx counterpart.
Fat-soluble, vitamin B1 derivative, benfotiamine displays a substantial increase in mitochondrial glucose oxidation, while reducing NOX4 gene expression.
This means benfotiamine is a powerful anti-diabetic compound, which works by facilitating a breakdown of sugar in the body.
As benfotiamine raises insulin levels in animal and cell studies in human studies it blocks the production of the sugar byproducts that cause diabetic issues, such as glycation end-products, or AGEs.
As we thiamine (vitamin B1), replicate these effects, benfotiamine offers a powerful solution for lowering blood sugar and diabetic nerve pain.
Benfotiamine is most effective at 150 to 300 mg per day, twice a day for 6 to 24 weeks. We see the best results for nerve pain when combined with B6 and B12.
For those dealing with both elevated blood sugar and diabetic neuropathy, benfotiamine appears to be the single best option.
#3) Banaba Leaf
Banaba leaf, Lagerstroemia speciosa, is a tropical plant widely used in the Philippines for its weight loss and anti-diabetic properties.
This traditional medicinal plant decreases blood glucose by increasing sugar tolerance.
It decreases glucose in the body up to 30%, while lowering the conversion of starch and glucagon to glucose.
Banaba does not promote weight gain, contrary to many other antidiabetics.
Up to 30% decrease in multiple studies.
Doses of 32–48 mg or 100 mg in 2 to 52 weeks are effective in studies.
It is still not FDA approved, despite several studies confirming blood sugar reductions in the 16 to 30% range.
#4) Gynostemma Pentaphyllum
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum is called “the herb of immortality”, and the “poor mans ginseng”, because of its similar Panax ginseng benefits with less cost.
Like ginseng, this plant boosts immunity, increases energy, protects cells, and reduces stress, because of its ginsenoside compounds, which we also find in ginseng.
Through its gypenoside compounds, decreases in blood glucose in diabetics are possible.
We believe gynostemma improves insulin sensitivity because of AMPK while reducing the protein PTP1B, a regulator of insulin.
Over periods of 12 to 24 weeks, we see gynostemma effective in both teas and extract forms. We believe standardized extract forms to be more effective.
We need more studies to confirm these initial promising results.
#5) Dietary Fiber
Water-soluble dietary fiber delivers immense health benefits in the way of metabolic conditions.
Stimulation of intestinal microbiota by prebiotics from dietary fiber can be effective in the prevention and management of type 1 and 2 diabetes.
In one study, high-carbohydrate/high-fiber significantly improves blood glucose control and lowers cholesterol in diabetic patients versus a low-carbohydrate/low-fiber.
Studies show no increase in plasma insulin or triglyceride concentrations, even with increased carbohydrates, supporting the protective role of fiber in the human body.
A review of 6 studies suggests consuming the highest amounts of dietary fiber, especially cereal fiber, reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A slight reduction appears in fasting blood glucose concentration and glycosylated hemoglobin percentage for individuals with type 2 diabetes adding β-glucan or psyllium to their daily dietary intake.
Adding just 6 to 8 grams of dietary fiber in the viscous form, such as psyllium, consistently lowers every major metabolic risk indicator. It also lowers risk factors and all-cause mortality.
While numbers are not always as impressive as the others in studies, the consistency of significantly lower risk and all-cause mortality is noteworthy. Study after study confirms 95% of people only receiving 50% of the dietary fiber they need. Men need up to 38 grams of dietary fiber, while women need up to 25 grams of dietary fiber.
#6) Xanthohumol Hops Extract
As a type of flavonoid, xanthohumol is found in hops (Humulus lupulus) and beer.
This extract appears to have potent effects on all metabolic indicators, especially blood sugar.
The strong dose-dependent effects xanthohumol hops on glucose and lipid metabolism are clear across several studies.
The Linus Pauling Institute reports, “this is the first time we’ve seen one compound with the potential to address so many health problems. After further study, this might provide an effective treatment for metabolic syndrome at a very low cost.”
Dosages are 20 to 180 mg, with the range of 50 mg to 150 mg as performing most optimal.
Previous research was mainly rodent and cellular studies, however recent humans are supporting the earlier findings. This plant extract additionally works well as an anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia compound.
This flowering plant traditionally made as a sour pink tea is a well-known weight loss, cholesterol, weight, and blood-sugar-lowering compound.
Acting as a diuretic, and an ACE inhibitor, it performs equally to blood pressure drugs.
With positive effects on insulin resistance and blood sugar in type 2 diabetics, hibiscus shows moderate anti-diabetic actions.
Extracts of 100 mg per day can lower blood sugar.
While hibiscus is worthy of this list because it is a powerful metabolic compound in lowering all markers, it is not the strongest blood sugar compound on this list.
#8) Alpha-Lipoic Acid
The “universal antioxidant”, lipoic acid (LA), or alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory fatty acid delivering essential actions.
From vitamin metabolism to mitochondrial respiration, R-lipoic acid is found inside every cell of the body, meaning typically only 50% of the dosage in a supplement is bioavailable.
We associate low levels with diabetes, as this supplement has medical approval in parts of Europe for diabetic neuropathy.
While improving fat and sugar metabolism, it also possesses mitochondrial support actions along with anti-inflammatory benefits while also activating AMPK, the body’s master metabolic switch.
Effective with 300 mg for type 2 diabetics. Only the R-isomer is bioavailable, so 150 mg R-Alpha Lipoic Acid could be effective. Other studies show it requires doses.
With too many actions and benefits to list, alpha-lipoic acid is a true powerhouse supplement.
#9) Aloe Vera
An ancient plant, prized for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobic actions, aloe vera is effective for wound and skin healing.
We confirm lower blood sugar, cholesterol (total and LDL cholesterol), reduced body weight, and insulin resistance across several studies.
300 mg aloe soft gels two times daily for 8 weeks.
Studies are small, with larger studies needed. This plant offers gastrointestinal healing properties, which are valuable and noteworthy.
Top 9 Notables:
Bitter Melon: Much more data needed. (70)
Emblica Officinalis: Noteworthy effects with more studies needed. (71)
Chromium: Effects are consistent but mild. (72)
Cinnamon: Effective for prevention but not management. (73)
Green Tea: Best results have been in younger age Asian study groups. (74)
Manganese: Deficiency carries a strong correlation. (75)
Omega-3: Results are inconsistent. Krill/ Algae oil might outperform fish oil. (76)
Salacia Reticulata: Noteworthy effects with more studies needed. (77)
Vanadium: Only minor effects in studies. (78)
Compounds Shown to Raise Blood Sugar:
Sea buckhorn, glutamine, vitamin B3 (dosage dependent only), caffeine (acute only).
Omega-3, algae oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, fish oil, cinnamon, aloe vera, L-carnitine, CoQ10, ubiquinol, ginger, B-vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, chromium, Panax ginseng, Salacia reticulata, creatine, curcumin, inositol, l-carnitine, psyllium, stevia, zinc, apple cider vinegar, ashwagandha, bladderwrack, capsaicin, chlorogenic acid, Citrullus colocynths, seaweed, chlorella, spirulina, kelp, ecklonia cava, yerba mate, Tribulus Terrestris, Ruscus aculeatus, moringa oleifera, holy basil, HMB, colostrum, asteracantha longifolia, Aronia melanocarpa, royal jelly, salvia hispanica, resveratrol, olive leaf extract, fenugreek, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Irvingia gabonensis, olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, berries, greens, cacao, cocoa, green coffee extract, magnesium, ginseng, garcinia Cambogia, quercetin, bromelain, pterostilbene, resveratrol.
Best for Blood Sugar: Berberine
Best for Blood Sugar and Neuropathy: Benfotiamine
Best Antioxidant for Blood Sugar: Alpha Lipoic Acid
Best General Metabolic Compound: Hibiscus
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