Type II Diabetes and Plants to Manage It

Description

Causes/Symptoms


Prevention/Care

Helpful Plants

Plant Preparation


References


By: Katrina Clemons, Christina Martinez, and Jessica White


Description

     Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in the United States, especially here in New Mexico. The medical cost of treating the type 2 diabetes is estimated at two billion dollars a year (Nabhand & Winkleman, 1992)! Diabetes is not a picky disease, it will affect a person regardless of weight, age, or race, ,especially if diabetes runs in the family. However, more times than not type 2 diabetes is a result of obesity (Becker, 2001). There is a theory that diabetes may actually determine obesity because it affects a persons hunger cues (Becker 2001). If you or a loved one suffers from type 2 diabetes it is important to emphasize that knowledge is power. Knowing about the disease and how to manage it is the first step in living a healthy life with diabetes. The purpose of this web page is to provide knowledge of the disease, while providing information on how to manage diabetes. Diabetes cannot be cured, at least at this time. It can only be managed.

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Causes/Symptoms

     People who suffer from type 2 diabetes have insufficient levels of insulin and their body is not able to use insulin properly (2002-2003). As a result of having type 2 diabetes, the patient has insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that keeps the blood glucose levels stabilized. In the non-diabetic person, the body releases insulin from the pancreas which in turn converts the insulin into fuel (Diabetes & Health, 2003). After the non-diabetic eats a meal, the high-glucose levels in the blood are then normalized in the blood streams. Obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise have all been linked to the causes of type 2 diabetes, along with genetics (2002-2003). Many people that have diabetes don't even know they have because they may experience little or no symptoms. The symptoms that are associated with diabetes include: fatigue, excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, mood changes and sexual problems (2002-2003). The misconception, however, is that only obese people get type 2 diabetes is false. It is important to emphasize that genetics play a major role in determining whether or not the disease will take place. Lack of exercise and poor diet are catalysts in getting diabetes, but the gene for diabetes has to be present to get the disease.

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Prevention/Care


 
Prickly-Pear Cactus

Prickly-Pear Cactus

Opuntia humifusa

     It is crucial that diabetic’s take initiative in managing their own diabetes, since the progression of the disease depends on the patient. The first step in managing diabetes is being educated in the disease and how to manage it. Denial is very prevalent among people that are first diagnosed with diabetes, thus it is important that the patient accept that he or she has the disease. Proper nutrition, exercise, and checking glucose levels are all components in living with diabetes. As a result of being diagnosed with diabetes, patients have to change their diet. In order to effectively stabilize blood glucose levels, the diabetic must be on some sort of meal plan very different from the non-diabetic person (Becker, 2001). A high-carbohydrate and fiber diet is recommended for persons suffering from type 2 diabetes. It is a diet which is made up of 20% protein, 70% carbohydrate, and 10% fat (Becker, 2001). There is also the low glycemic index diet which measures the time it takes food to elevate blood glucose levels. Lastly, a well know diet for diabetics is the exchange system. The exchange diet gives the diabetic more flexibility in their meal plan because there aren’t any restricted foods. The exchange diet is less strict than the high carbohydrate and the low glycemic index diet (Becker, 2001). These diets limit fat intake because the diabetic is prone to cardiovascular disease, and low fat diets are associated with reducing the risk of heart disease.

     Among the many plants found in the southwest that are potentially helpful for type 2 diabetes, Mesquite and Brickellia are found to be especially useful in the management of diabetes along with diet and exercise.

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Helpful Plants

     There are many medicinal plants that are useful in treatment of type 2 diabetes, but in the southwest. The mesquite plant (Prosopsis glandulosa) and prodigiosa (brickellia grandiflora) are found to be particularly effective in the stabilization of the blood glucose. These are not the only plants out there though. Here is a short list of some of them:

Castela emory [Simarubaceae]
Ephedra spp. [Ephedraceae]
Krameria spp. [Krameriaceae]
Larrea divaricata [Zygophyllaceae]
Opuntia spp. [Cactaceae]
Peniocereus greggii [Cacteceae]
Plantago spp. [Plantagenaceae]
Salvia columbariae [Labiatae]
Verbena gooddingii [Verbenaceae]
cacalia decomposita [Asteraceae]


 
Brickellia

Brickellia aka Prodigiosa

Brickellia Grandiflora

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Plant Preparation


 
Mesquite

             Mesquite

     Prosopsis Glandulosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brickellia

Brickellia aka Prodigiosa

Brickellia grandiflora

Mesquite

     The use of medicinal plants among different cultural groups is a long-standing tradition. In Western medicine however, the preventative measures and treatments vary according to customs and beliefs. Unlike the first half of the 20th century, more people are living longer, but, not necessarily healthier lives. For this reason, many type II diabetics have turned to alternative medicinal plants for aiding in the stabilization of their disease. Properties of the Mesquite plant have been used for a long time by numerous groups throughout the entire Southwest. Acting much as an antacid it can treat digestive problem (Davidow 1999). In addition, mesquite has antibiotic activity and its aqueous extracts are antibacterial (Kay 1996).

     All parts of the plant should be dried after collected. For easier powdering when dry the bark and branches can be cut into smaller pieces when they are still fresh (Moore, 1989). Gum can be obtained by breaking branches off of the trunk. After several weeks gum will have been secreted and can be collected (Moore, 1989). Dry pods can be collected starting in the summer and up until the fall. Green pods are available in early summer (Gibson 2001).
The stems of the mesquite may be used to relieve fevers and the yellow bark (inner) and branches are useful as purgatives. Bladder infections and measles may be cured with the bark. The pods of the mesquite plant can be utilized for eyewashes and sunburns. They are prepared for sore throat as a poultice or as a drink for insect bites. The gum that is extracted from the bark, is probably used most often for medicinal purposes. Many of its uses include treatment for burns, wounds, chapped fingers sores, and lips and sunburn. It also has good intestinal uses, such as diarrhea, system cleansing and stomach inflammation. The leaves are good for eyewashes, diarrhea, empacho and intestinal problems. In addition, they are useful for bladder infections, sore gums and headaches.

Brickellia

Common name: Prodigiosa, Bricklebush, Hamula, Atanasia.

     The brickellia is a relatively large bush, growing between three and five feet in height. Its leaves are grayish purple with deep green colors. It has often been mistaken for catnip due to the structure of its leaves. This plant is a perennial and grows in the same location every year. The brickellia plant can be found in sandy washes, roadsides and in canyons throughout the Southwestern United States.

     In the Brickellia genus, grandiflora is the most widely used as a medicine (Moore, 1989). It assists in lowering high blood sugar levels in type II diabetics who are insulin-resistant. In addition, it helps improve the stomach lining and digestion because it increases not only the quality, but the quantity of hydrochloric acid that secretes in the stomach. This is important because foods that take a long time to digest often cause acid indigestion. The brickellia plant also helps to stimulate fat digestion in the gallbladder by evacuating bile from the gallbladder and bile synthesis in the liver.

     Prodigiosa is a bitter herb and is probably the reason it is so effective in digestion improvement (Miller 2002). In Mexico Prodigiiosa has been known to be used in baths for acute arthritis (Moore, 1989). It can also be helpful to treat diarrhea and other digestive problems (Miller, 2002) It may also have the potential to prevent or help cataracts in certain cases (Moore, 1989).

     This plant is more potent before it blooms, thus it should be collected early. The leaves and stems should be dried in a cool area by using a cheese cloth or a plain paper bag. To drink as a tea, it should be prepared with two to four fluid ounces: one teaspoon of herb for every cup of water and consumed in the morning and in the evening. If a tincture is preferred, it can be prepared with 1:5 with 50% alcohol in º to ½ teaspoon doses. It can be taken up to three times a day (Moore, 1989).

Do not take this herb if one is an insulin-dependent (type I) diabetic (McDonald, 2002).

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References

Becker, Gretchen. Type II Diabetes: The First Year. Marlowe and Company, New York: 2001.

Brandt, Deborah. Herb Walk Presentation at Dripping Springs, New Mexico. June 13, 2003.

Davidow, Joie. Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal remedies. Simon & Schuster Inc. New York, NY. 1999.

“Diabetes and Health” 2003. accessed from the world wide web 7/8/03. http://www.diabetesandhealth.com/public/contenu/pages/health_center/what_diab.htm#3

Gibson, Sarah et al. "Mesquite." Medicinal Plants of the Southwest. 2002. accessed from the world wide web 7/8/03. http://medplant.nmsu.edu/mesquite4.htm

Guthrie, Diana W. and Richard, A. Alternative and Complementary Diabetes Care. John Wiley and Sons, New York: 2000.

Kay, Margarita Artschwager. Healing with Plants in the American and Mexican West. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1996. 221-224.

McDonald, Richer. "Brickellia grandiflora." 2002. Accessed from world wide web 7/8/03 http://www.zianet.com/desertbloom/monographs/BrickelliaG.html

Mendoza-Bruce, Dr. Herb Presentation at New Mexico State University. June 20, 2003.

Miller, Frances et al. "Brickellia." Medicinal Plants of the Southwest. 2002. accessed from the world wide web 7/8/03. http://medplant.nmsu.edu/brickellia.htm

Moore, Micheal. Medicinal Plants of the Desert Canyon West. Museum of New Mexico Press. Santa Fe, NM. 1989.

Winkelman, Michael. "Pharmacological Properties of Some Piman (O’Odham) Medicinal Plants for the Treatment of Diabetes." Native Seed/Search Monograph #1. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. 1992.

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Thanks goes to http://www.patswebgraphics.com for the ivy and leaf graphics

Last updated July 18, 2003
For more information contact Dr. Mary O'Connell

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