Can Ginger Help to Control Diabetes?

Man holding ginger.
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One of the most popular plants in herbal medicine, ginger (Zingiber officinale) shows promise as a natural remedy for diabetes. Since the herb is known to offer anti-inflammatory benefits, it's thought that ginger may help reduce diabetes-related inflammation. Some research shows that ginger may also help control diabetes by improving blood sugar levels and treating insulin resistance.

Why Is Ginger Sometimes Used for Diabetes Control?

In preliminary research, scientists have observed that compounds found in ginger may help treat diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels and enhancing insulin sensitivity (a measure of how efficiently your body processes blood sugar).

In addition, some preliminary studies suggest that ginger may help treat diabetes-related abnormalities in cholesterol levels. For example, a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2005 determined that treatment with ginger extract helped lower total cholesterol and increase HDL ("good") cholesterol in diabetic rats.

What's more, evidence from other animal-based research indicates that treatment with ginger may help protect against certain diabetic complications, including the development of cataracts.

Research on Ginger and Diabetes

So far, only a few clinical trials have looked at ginger's possible benefits as a natural approach to diabetes management.

These clinical trials include a small study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in 2014, which included 70 people with diabetes. Compared to participants given a placebo for 12 weeks, those treated with ginger supplements for the same length of time showed a significantly greater improvement in blood sugar levels, total cholesterol, and insulin sensitivity by the study's end.

Additionally, a small study published in Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin in 2013 found that ginger may help curb the chronic inflammation closely linked to many diabetic complications. For the study, 64 people with diabetes took either ginger supplements or a placebo for two months. Results revealed that study members treated with ginger experienced a significantly greater reduction in certain markers of chronic inflammation (compared to those assigned to the placebo).


Some individuals may experience mild side effects, including:

There's also some concern that use of ginger may increase the risk of bleeding, so it should be avoided by people with bleeding disorders and those taking medications that increase the risk of bleeding. It may also increase menstrual bleeding.

While increased intake of ginger may be beneficial for some people with diabetes, this herb should not be used in place of standard care for any condition. When improperly treated, diabetes may lead to life-threatening health issues such cardiovascular disease.

If you're currently using diabetes medications, it's important to talk to your doctor prior to taking ginger supplements. Because ginger may lower your blood sugar, it's possible that using this herb in combination with diabetes medications may cause your blood sugar to drop to abnormally low levels.

Go here for more tips on using dietary supplements.

Alternatives to Ginger for Diabetes Control

Like ginger, herbs such as ginseng, cinnamon, turmeric, milk thistle, and fenugreek may improve health in diabetes patients.

There's also some evidence that maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D and drinking tea on a regular basis may help protect against diabetes.

Some research shows that certain alternative therapies and mind-body techniques (such as acupuncture and yoga) may be of some benefit to people with diabetes as well.

Before using any type of alternative medicine (including ginger) in the management of diabetes, it's crucial to consult your physician for guidance in incorporating the remedy or therapy into your treatment plan.


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Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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