American ginseng

American ginseng may help lower blood pressure during a disaster if you have to go without your medication.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Okay, it’s disaster time, you’re a type 2 diabetic, and you’ve run out of or lost your oral medication. What do you do?

Here are some ideas to lower your blood sugar.

First, continue your diet and exercise. If you’re on oral medications that means you still produce insulin. Insulin works most efficiently when you (1) eat small meals not loaded with simple sugars, (2) stay hydrated with water, (3) do a little exercise.

Of course, you and your family’s safety comes first, and you may already be working to exhaustion, but if you’re stuck sitting all day in a shelter, get up and stir around a bit. This is good advice with or without your medication.

Natural Ways to Lower Blood Sugar When You’re Without Medication

There are about as many natural suggestions to lower your blood sugar as there are type 2 diabetics. Few work very well. None work nearly as well as prescription medication. Of the ones I’ve found, here are the three with the most evidence that they can significantly lower your blood sugar.

Before trying any of these, check with your doctor. Although they can’t take the place of your prescriptions, if you take your regular dose of medication plus one of these, your blood sugar can drop too low.

Ginseng Tea Recipe

To make ginseng tea, just pour boiling water over five to eight slices of ginseng. Steep four to five minutes (or longer for stronger tea).

Schumacher Ginseng, a ginseng farm in Wisconsin, says you can reuse the ginseng for two or three more cups of tea and then eat it. The question would be whether repeated steeping reduces the components that help with blood sugar.

1. Alpha-lipoic acid
It’s found in liver, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. There’s also a supplement. Recommended dose is 200–300 mg per day.

2. American ginseng
Ingesting up to 3 grams within two hours of a meal has been shown to lower blood sugar. More doesn’t have any more effect. To get 3 grams you could take the supplement or one cup of tea (using 1 teaspoon or one teabag of the cut or ground ginseng). I’m not sure how much of the ginseng you’d have to eat for 3 grams.

3. Coccinia indica
Take 1 gram of the extract per day, or 2 ounces of the gourd. (Coccinia indica is an herb that grows in India.)

In addition to these natural remedies, some studies have shown the mineral chromium and garlic to lower blood sugar. Other studies have found they have no effect. They’re worth a try if you have them.

Has anyone tried these or any other natural ways to lower blood sugar with type 2 diabetes? How well did they work?

Photo of American ginseng by hubertk on flickr. (Photo has been altered.)