A group of scientists has identified 30 medicinal plants used in indigenous folk medicines, Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha systems. These three herbal medicine systems together will cover nearly the entire ancient Indian herbal medicine spectrum. Trials on rats on individual plants used in these indigenous medicine systems report the lowering of blood glucose levels.
The effectiveness in decreasing order of impact of the studied plants are Coccinia indica, Tragia involucrata, Gymnema sylvestre, Pterocarpus marsupium, Trigonella foenum-graecum, Moringa oleifera, Tinospora cordifolia, Swertia chirayita, Ficus glomerata, Ficus benghalensis, Vinca rosea, Premna integrifolia, Mucuna prurita, Terminalia bellirica, Sesbania aegyptiaca, Azadirachta indica, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Zingiber officinale, Aegle marmelos, Cinnamomum tamala, Trichosanthes cucumerina, and Ocimum tenuiflorum. (Kar, A. et al., 2003)
A similar identification of herbs used in Chinese medicine has been made. I have looked at modern scientific evidence in support of the antidiabetes medicinal properties of these plants.
I have been able to identify four plants – Gymnema sylvestre, Trigonella foenum-graecum, Eugenia jambolana, and Curcuma longa that has the most substantial scientific support for their anti-diabetic properties.
A review of herbs used in TCM shows that Atractylodes macrocephala, Codonopsis pilosula, Dioscorea opposita, Flos lonicerae, and Pueraria lobata retard the progression of diabetes by reducing blood glucose level.
My conclusion after this review is that a combination of modern medicine, yoga, and meditation is likely to benefit diabetes patients. Herbal medicine’s role will continue at best to be supportive of contemporary diabetes management. But if we can adopt the lifestyle changes recommended by Ayurveda and TCM, we will be healthier.
It is best to consult a diabetologist who is in the best position to make a medical determination in a nutshell. Herbal medicine can at best be used in support.