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Herbs suitable for diabetics

Written by Simon Mills

Type 2 or late-onset diabetes, marked by persistently high levels of glucose in the blood, is increasingly common in industrially developed societies. It is also rocketing in countries which have been industrialising most rapidly (eg India and China). It has been linked to excessive food intake, especially carbohydrate and sugar consumption, and a reduction in exercise. It is particularly associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease.

There are serious health complications of diabetes, especially if not controlled. There is a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia, and in severe cases, of kidney disease, blindness and amputations. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the world, and rapidly increasing in its impact.

Fortunately most cases of Type 2 diabetes can be controlled by diet and exercise, and particularly by weight loss. There are likely to be added benefits with incorporating plant foods, spices and supplements into the diet. We will look at these opportunities.

Firstly we can consider five ways to address the onset and management of Type 2 diabetes.

I am a Cambridge medical sciences graduate and have been a herbal practitioner in Exeter since 1977. In that time I have led the main professional and trade organizations for herbal medicine in the UK and served on Government and House of Lords committees. I have written standard textbooks used by herbal practitioners around the world, including with Professor Kerry Bone from Australia.

I was involved in academic work for many years, co-founding the University of Exeter pioneering Centre for Complementary Health Studies in 1987 (where we built a complementary research and postgraduate teaching programme from scratch), then at Peninsula the first integrated health course at a UK medical school, and the first Masters degree in herbal medicine in the USA, at the Maryland University of Integrative Health.

I am particularly fascinated by the insights we can distill from the millions of intelligent people who over many centuries needed plants to survive. Mostly I want to learn and share the old skills, to experience healing plants as characters, that can help us fend off ill health. My passion for offering people tools to look after themselves and their families has led me to work with the founders of the College of Medicine on pioneering national self care and social prescribing projects. I am now the College Self Care Lead and also Herbal Strategist at Pukka Herbs

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