Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam
Can people with diabetes eat insulin plant?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes glucose, a type of sugar that is the main source of energy for cells. People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps glucose enter cells, or are resistant to its effects. This leads to high blood sugar levels, which can cause various complications such as nerve damage, kidney damage, eye problems, and heart disease.
One of the ways to manage diabetes is to follow a healthy diet that helps control blood sugar levels. Some people also use herbal remedies or supplements to complement their treatment. One such remedy is the insulin plant, a tropical plant that belongs to the ginger family and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine.
What is the insulin plant?
The insulin plant (Costus igneus) is a perennial herb that grows up to 2 feet tall and has green leaves with red stripes. It produces orange flowers that resemble spiral flags. The plant is native to Central and South America, but has been introduced to other regions such as India, where it is widely cultivated and consumed by people with diabetes.
The name “insulin plant” comes from the belief that it can help lower blood sugar levels by mimicking the effects of insulin. The plant contains various compounds that may have anti-diabetic properties, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, corosolic acid, and hypoglycin.
How does the insulin plant work for diabetes?
There are different ways to consume the insulin plant for diabetes. Some people chew on the fresh leaves, while others take it as a supplement in tablet or powder form. Another popular method is to boil the leaves and make a tea.
The insulin plant may help to lower blood sugar levels by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin, which can help glucose enter cells. It may also help increase the uptake of glucose into cells by activating certain enzymes and receptors. Additionally, it may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that can protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, which are linked to diabetes complications.
What are the benefits of the insulin plant for diabetes?
Some studies have shown that the insulin plant can have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels and other markers of diabetes. For example:
A study involving 60 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking two leaves of the insulin plant daily for 90 days significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels, postprandial blood sugar levels (after meals), and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), which reflects average blood sugar levels over three months.
Another study involving 30 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking one leaf of the insulin plant daily for 60 days significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels and HbA1c.
A study involving 24 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking one tablet of the insulin plant extract daily for 45 days significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels, postprandial blood sugar levels, and HbA1c.
These studies suggest that the insulin plant may help improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of diabetes complications. However, more research is needed to confirm its safety and efficacy in larger and longer-term trials.
What are the side effects of the insulin plant for diabetes?
The insulin plant is generally considered safe when consumed in moderate amounts as part of a balanced diet. However, some people may experience side effects such as:
Moreover, the insulin plant may interact with other medications for diabetes, such as metformin or sulfonylureas, and cause dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). Therefore, it is important to monitor blood sugar levels closely and consult a doctor before using the insulin plant for diabetes.
The insulin plant is a natural remedy that may help lower blood sugar levels in some people with diabetes. It may work by stimulating insulin production and increasing glucose uptake into cells. It may also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that can protect against diabetes complications.
However, the insulin plant is not a substitute for insulin or other medications for diabetes. It should be used only as a supplement under medical supervision and with regular blood sugar monitoring. It may also cause side effects or interactions with other drugs, so it is advisable to consult a doctor before using it.
Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)
Internal Medicine Specialist
Phone : 85000 23456