Natural Remedies for Type 2 Diabetes

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There is some research indicating that several natural remedies for type 2 diabetes may help you balance your blood sugar, especially when used in conjunction with oral medication. These include ginseng, magnesium, cinnamon, aloe vera, fenugreek, and others.

Finely ground cinnamon in white ceramic bowl isolated on white wood background from above. Cinnamon sticks.
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While the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has not found conclusive evidence that herbal treatments or vitamin and mineral supplements will benefit people with diabetes unless they have underlying deficiencies, your healthcare provider may suggest trying some of these approaches.

This article explains what is known about several natural supplements that have been recommended to help manage diabetes.

Always consult with your healthcare provider before trying complementary therapies such as these. Some may not be appropriate for you or may interact with medications you are already taking, which may need to be adjusted to prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).


Although there are several different types of ginseng, the most promising studies on ginseng and diabetes have used American ginseng ​(Panax quinquefolius).

A meta-analysis has shown that American ginseng may significantly improve blood sugar control and fasting glucose levels (a marker of your general blood sugar levels) by increasing your body's insulin sensitivity. ​​​

Look for capsules with a standardized extract of ginsenosides, the active ingredient.


Chromium is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism and helps body cells properly respond to insulin. In fact, one study found that the incidence of diabetes was lower in people who took a supplement containing chromium within the previous month.

There are several promising studies suggesting chromium supplementation may be effective, but they are far from conclusive.

One review looked at 20 different randomized controlled trials on chromium and found that supplementing did decrease fasting plasma glucose levels in five of the 20 studies, while hemoglobin A1C decreased by 0.5% in five of 14 studies.


One study suggests that low magnesium levels may worsen blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes. The same study shows evidence that magnesium supplementation may help with insulin resistance by increasing insulin sensitivity.

Magnesium is a mineral that is needed for more than 300 different biochemical reactions. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and is needed for normal muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, immune function, blood pressure, and bone health.

Magnesium is available in supplement form and found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Be forewarned that while generally safe, very high doses of magnesium may cause diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and confusion.

Magnesium may interact with certain medications, such as osteoporosis treatments, calcium channel blockers used for hypertension, as well as some antibiotics, muscle relaxants, and diuretics.​


Cinnamon has been found to have glucose-lowering ability while also reducing lipid biomarkers including triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and total cholesterol.

A high-quality clinical trial looked at cinnamon supplementation in 140 people with type 2 diabetes over three months. In the study, participants were divided into groups and either given two capsules per day of 500 milligrams of cinnamon powder each or a placebo. None of them were told what they received.

After three months, the statistically significant findings included the following improvements in the treatment group:

  • Body fat, visceral fat, and body mass index (BMI)
  • Fasting plasma glucose
  • A1C
  • Insulin production
  • Insulin resistance
  • Lipids

The greatest effects were noticed in those with a BMI over 27 (considered overweight).

Aloe Vera

Although aloe vera gel is better known as a home remedy for minor burns and other skin conditions, one review suggests that aloe vera gel may help people with diabetes.

This is thanks to a number of active phytosterol compounds from the plant that have been found to reduce blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C levels by enhancing glucose storage and utilization.


Studies suggest that the herb Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre) can lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Gymnema can actually make sweet foods taste less sweet, so you end up wanting to eat less of them.

The herb's enzyme-inhibiting properties are well-known for their ability to reduce fat accumulation and help with weight loss.

Additionally, one such study found that Gymnema's potent antioxidant activity may help prevent organ damage often seen in diabetes.

Because Gymnema may significantly lower blood sugar levels, people taking medications for diabetes or using insulin shouldn't take Gymnema simultaneously unless they are closely monitored by a healthcare provider.


Fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum) are used as a spice for cooking and often employed in herbal medicine as a treatment for a wide range of ailments.

There is little evidence that fenugreek has significant benefits for any condition. However, there are some studies that show it might help people with diabetes control their blood sugar. If you have prediabetes, the herb may also help prevent the disease from progressing to diabetes.

You can add the seeds to your cooking, or use supplements made from powered seeds or liquid extracts.


Studies have shown that zinc has a number of benefits for both type-1 and type-2 diabetes. It seems to improve glycemic control and promotes healthy triglycerides and cholesterol.

In fact, low-dose zinc supplementation of less than 25 milligrams (mg) seem to have a positive impact on fasting blood glucose, insulin resistance, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.


According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should eat 22 to 34 grams of fiber each day. Achieving this goal is especially important for diabetics since fiber can help control blood sugar.

To meet your fiber needs, you can supplement your diet with non-food sources such psyllium, a soluble fiber supplement. Research has not shown a difference between supplements such as these and whole-food sources of fiber such as fruits, vegetables, grains, or oatmeal.

Risks of Avoiding Standard Treatment

If used, these remedies should complement—not replace—your standard diabetes treatment.

Without proper medical treatment and regular blood sugar testing, diabetes may progress and lead to serious and possibly fatal complications, such as:


Herbal treatments and nutritional supplements are often lauded for their power to regulate blood sugar. In fact, there's little evidence of their effectiveness. However, in most cases, adding some of these natural remedies to your diet and using them alongside prescribed medication and treatments will do no harm and may offer some benefit.

Some of the natural diabetes treatments, especially fiber, fit well into a healthy diet, which is essential to controlling your diabetes.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Mciver DJ, Grizales AM, Brownstein JS, Goldfine AB. Risk of type 2 diabetes is lower in US adults taking chromium-containing supplements. J Nutr. 2015;145(12):2675-82. doi:10.3945/jn.115.214569

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  5. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health. Magnesium.

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  7. Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Punthanitisarn S. Effect of Aloe vera on glycaemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2016;41(2):180-8. doi:10.1111/jcpt.12382

  8. Gunasekaran V, Srinivasan S, Rani SS. Potential antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of Gymnema sylvestre related to diabetes. JMPS. 2019;7(2):05-11.

  9. Pompano LM, Boy E. Effects of dose and duration of zinc interventions on risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Advances in Nutrition. 2021;12(1):141-160. doi:10.1093/advances/nmaa087

  10. American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee. 5. Facilitating Behavior Change and Well-being to Improve Health Outcomes: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2022Diabetes Care. 2022;45(Supplement_1):S60-S82. doi:10.2337/dc22-S005

  11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.