Many herbs and spices have been found to be as powerful as some medications in lowering and stabilizing blood sugar. But if you are on medication, always check with your physician to be sure adding spices will not interfere with your current prescription.
Cinnamon – Studies have shown that cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and blood sugar stability with as little as a ½ teaspoon per day. When cinnamon was taken for 40 days, moderate doses of it (1 to 6 grams per day) actually reduced blood sugar levels by 18-29%, according to a study published in 2003 in the medical journal Diabetes Care. Best type of cinnamon to use—Saigon cinnamon.
Add a half teaspoon or so of cinnamon to your daily cup of coffee as a tasty way to enjoy the blood sugar controlling benefits!
Cloves – This spice contains powerful antioxidants, including anthocyanins and phenolic compounds. Cloves have antiseptic and germicidal properties, and they offer anti-inflammatory, analgesic and digestive health benefits. Clove oil can even be used to for pain relief from toothaches, headaches, and as a remedy for cough and even indigestion.
Cilantro and Coriander – The leaves of the cilantro plant are used in many foods, as well as its seeds (coriander). In Europe, coriander is often referred to as an "anti-diabetic" plant. Coriander is known to stimulate the secretion of insulin and lower blood sugar. It also has very beneficial effects on the cholesterol, lowering the LDL and raising the good cholesterol, HDL.
Cumin – Like cinnamon, cumin keeps blood sugar levels stable. Cumin has been proven to work as well as some commonly used diabetic drugs at regulating insulin and glycogen. Cumin is also effective at stimulating pancreatic enzymes, which help in digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Fenugreek – Fenugreek seeds help with lowering blood sugar levels, particularly after meals. The active components of fenugreek are trigonelline, and 4-hydroxyisoleucine. These ingredients seem to stimulate insulin directly. This reaction is dependent upon high glucose levels, so it may not act in the same manner in lower blood sugar levels.
Ginseng – American ginseng contains a substance called, ginsengosides. Researchers have found that ginseng slows carbohydrate absorption, increases cells’ ability to use glucose, and stimulates insulin secretion in the pancreas. Studies done at the University of Toronto showed that ginseng capsules can lower blood glucose 15-20%.
Sage - This herb contains phytosterols that, according to German study on this herb reduced blood sugar levels in diabetics who drank infusions of this herb. It is often used to flavor meat and soup dishes, but can also be drunk as tea.
Turmeric - Turmeric has properties of being able to block enzymes that change carbohydrates into glucose, thereby lowering blood sugar. One of the active ingredients in turmeric is curcumin, which induces the flow of bile, and in turn breaks down fats. I like to add turmeric to my eggs a couple times a week whenever I make scrambled eggs. And eating a curry dish a few times a month is not only tasty, but very healthy! I also take a couple capsules a day of pure turmeric to get a little extra since it’s not a spice that we cook with daily.
Lemon Juice - Studies show that as little as 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice in a glass of water lowered blood sugar levels by as much as 20%. The effects appear to be related to the acids, as it is know that other acids can also have a blood sugar lowering effect. Acidity in food slows the natural rate of stomach emptying, resulting in a longer time for carbohydrates to be absorbed. I like to squeeze a couple lemon slices in my unsweetened iced tea throughout the day or in water with a meal.