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About 25.8 million people in the U.S. were affected by diabetes in 2010 according to the CDC. Diabetes is nothing new to TCM and has been treated and managed by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It was first mentioned in the foundational TCM book The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (Huang di NeijIng Suwen), as a disease caused by indulging in too many rich and fatty foods.
Many Chinese herbs have helped patients manage their Type 2 Diabetes. Here are the most commonly used herbs/supplements in China:

  • Cinnamon (gui zhi) reduces serum glucose and lipid levels, promotes insulin release, enhances insulin sensitivity, and increases glucose disposal
  • Ginseng (ren shen) has an antihyperglycemic effect, significantly decreases insulin resistance and fasting blood glucose
  • Berberine supplements (Oregon Grape) has an antihyperglycemic effect comparable to Metformin, promotes insulin secretion, protects pancreatic beta cells, and inhibits glucose absorption in the intestines
  • Bitter Melon lowers fasting and postprandial serum glucose levels
  • Fenugreek (hu lu ba) improves blood glucose control and insulin resistance, significantly decreases fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, and VLDL cholesterol levels
  • Garlic (bulbus allii sativi) has antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic effects and lowers fasting blood glucose and serum triglyceride levels

If you’re interested in supplementing with any of these herbs, please consult your acupuncturist or TCM practitioner first.

To read another blog article on Chinese herbs, go here.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

Xie, W., Zhao, Y., and Zhang, Y. “Traditional Chinese Medicines in Treatment of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.” Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, 17 Mar. 2011.

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