Tongkat ali is well known to medical research for its use in correcting erectile dysfunction, but it has been used for many different purposes in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In addition to treating malaria and fevers, this herb has some precedence as treatment for diabetes, as well. Although it is not a well-known usage of the herb, the action of tongkat ali on blood sugar is so profound that those who take diabetes medicines are urged to avoid the supplement. It lowers the blood sugar and may decrease glucose levels dangerously.
With diabetes approaching an epidemic standard in the world, it helps to know that you can turn to natural products to treat this common condition. Of course, you should not take this medication without a complete work up from your doctor. In some cases, the tongkat ali may not be effective enough to lower very high blood sugars. For severe diabetes, you are probably better off taking the prescriptions your doctor orders, but if you are a borderline diabetic or want to try something new with your doctor’s blessing, tongkat ali is a viable alternative to the synthetic medications available.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is essentially an alteration of the blood sugar levels. All cells need food, and blood sugar represents the food that feeds all cells. When the amount of sugar in the blood is too low, loss of consciousness and seizures can occur. When the amount is too high, most people simply do not know about it. Unfortunately, blood sugar acts like a corrosive agent in the body, destroying nerves and small blood vessels in the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Even a small spike in blood sugar that is maintained over a period of time can lead to some of the corrosive effects seen in high blood sugar situations.
Diabetes mellitus comes in two flavors. One is type I or juvenile diabetes. This describes an inherent problem with the insulin-producing pancreas. The pancreas does not produce insulin in this case, and therefore, the cells are unable to consume the blood sugar. Insulin is like a key in a lock, opening the cell to the energy of glucose. Type II diabetes usually occurs later in life and is a result of insulin resistance. When the blood sugar is slightly high for a long time, the cells become immune to the actions of insulin. Since the hormone no longer works, the cells starve and the blood sugar rises, corroding important body systems. Tongkat ali can help in situations of insulin resistance and mild type II diabetes mellitus.
What is Tongkat Ali?
Tongkat ali is an herb that is found in southeastern Asia, and it has been called the herb of a hundred healing properties. Its main action on the body is increasing testosterone, and various scientific studies have shown that it can increase this hormone in subjects. For this reason, it is a well-known aphrodisiac. Not only does it result in better erections for men, but it also increases their sexual desire. Other medications, such as Viagra, simply increase blood flow to the penis, and do not impact the desire for sex. In addition, some weight lifters use the herb to assist in the building of lean muscle mass.
It has many other uses, as well, but one that is particularly well studied is the ability to decrease stress. In fact, it helps to decrease hormones related to stress and assists in recovery time. This may help diabetics who experience fatigue as part of their condition. In addition to decreasing blood sugar, it can increase both mental and physical performance. For diabetics with less severe symptoms, this boost in energy can make the difference in fatigue, mood, and motivation.
How Tongkat Ali Helps Diabetes
Unfortunately, the research into tongkat ali and diabetes hasn’t been extensively conducted. While multiple studies have focused on the herb’s abilities in the erectile dysfunction area, not many have investigated its properties in treating diabetes. However, a great deal of anecdotal evidence that it lowers blood sugar is available, and practitioners in southeast Asia have used it for centuries for just this purpose. It is hoped that medical research will investigate this usage of the medication in the years to come, but you can still use it in the meantime with the understanding that it may or may not work for you.
One study was conducted into traditional Chinese herbs and diabetes, and it was published in 2003 in the Medical Journal of Malaysia. Most of the participants in the study used tongkat ali in addition to traditionally prescribed medications to control their diabetes. Over half of them found that the herb helped with keeping blood sugar low and reducing the amount of synthetic medications they needed to take. Most practitioners recommend tongkat ali as a complement to traditional treatment. Simply using the herb to treat diabetes is not recommended, but using it in conjunction with mainstream treatments can mean better control of blood sugar and a decrease in the dosage of diabetes medications.
If you are diabetic, you should check with your doctor before taking this herb. It may work too well and lower your blood sugar to a dangerous level. With open communication between you and your doctor, tongkat ali can be a powerful adjunct in getting your diabetes under control.
Medical Journal of Malaysia; Use of Complementary Medicine Amongst Diabetic
Patients in a Public Primary Care Clinic in Ipoh; R Remli, MBChB and S C Chan, FRACGP; April 2003