Diabetes: The berry that may ‘significantly’ lower blood sugar – ‘faster’ than some drugs

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Diabetes is understood as a lifelong disorder of carbohydrate metabolism, that requires meticulous management. It can occur when insulin production falters, or when the body becomes desensitised to the hormone. This result in high blood sugar levels, which may be easier to control with the help of Juniper berries.

According to The Berry Company, juniper berries have several benefits that render them useful in the treatment of various ailments.

It states: “Juniper extract has traditionally been used as a directive to help arthritis and diabetes, while also used in the treatment of gastrointestinal and autoimmune disorders.”

Indeed, juniper berries have traditionally been used in medicine in the treatment of wounds, pulmonary sickness and ulcers.

In recent years, however, the fruit has garnered a great amount of attention for its anti-diabetic and anti-hyperlipidemic potential.

Several studies have explored the anti-diabetic role of China juniper berry extract, highlighting its outstanding efficacy in lowering blood sugar levels.

One such study, published in the journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2008, found that blood glucose levels “significantly” reduced after a single oral administration of the ethanolic extract.

What’s more, the researchers noted that it did so in a time-dependent manner, “which is much faster and more than that of glibenclamide” – an anti-diabetic medication used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Researchers came to the finding after measuring blood glucose levels of diabetic rats using both an ethanolic and aqueous extract of Chinese juniper berries.

The ethanolic extract is developed using a process used in fine liquor distillation, while the second is prepared by evaporating a watery solution.

Results showed that rodents treated with the ethanolic extract, saw their blood glucose levels reduce to 94 percent, 81 percent, 66 percent, 45 percent and 40 percent at one, three, five, seven and nine hours respectively.

The aqueous solution, on the other hand, had no effect at all.

What’s more, the study demonstrated that treatment with juniper berry extract reduced total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 57 percent and 37 percent, respectively, compared with a control group.

Some of these effects have been put down to the fruit’s ability to reduce insulin resistance and enhance the cellular uptake of glucose from the bloodstream.

Writing in the journal Planta Medica, researchers suggested these effects could be achieved through an increase in peripheral glucose consumption, or glucose-induced insulin secretion.

Many researchers have attributed these qualities to the fruit’s high concentrations of antioxidants.

In fact, juniper berries are rich in 87 antioxidant phytochemicals, including:

  • Alpha-pinene
  • Cadinene
  • Limonene
  • Myrcene
  • Borneol
  • Caryophyllene
  • Germacrene

Although there is a lack of research on the effects of juniper berries on humans, there is overwhelming evidence that the berries’ antioxidants may protect the heart too.

Published in the International Journal of Pharma and Bio Science, one 2013 study suggested this protection may come from an increase in HDL cholesterol.

These findings are alluring, but it’s worth mentioning that the majority of research connecting juniper berries with treatment for diabetes have been limited to lab and animal testing, warranting further research on humans.

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