Natural remedies for prediabetes

Prediabetes is a condition where the blood glucose level is persistently above normal but below the diabetes threshold. The diagnosis of prediabetes by the World Health Organisation is based on two specific parameters [1]:

  1. Fasting blood glucose of 6.1-6.9 mmol/L (110 to 125 mg/dL), and
  2. Glucose tolerance – blood glucose of 7.8-11.0 mmol/L (140-200 mg/dL) at 2 hours after taking 75 g of glucose orally.

Prediabetes is also considered as an intermediate state of hyperglycaemia. Someone with prediabetes is at risk of further develop into diabetes, with 5% to 10% chance of conversion within a year. As such, having prediabetes is a warning sign; it is a time that one should seriously consider changing dietary habits ad lifestyles to lower blood glucose level and prevent deterioration of the condition [2]. There are also natural remedies that can help to lower the risk of disease progression. I have discussed the use of vitamin C to prevent diabetes in an earlier post (See “Vitamin C and Type 2 Diabetes”). Here are some more useful remedies that is supported by research evidence.


Feel free to add garlic to your food – it can help to lower blood sugar!

Garlic is such fantastic medicinal food. It is an all-in-one remedy for cardiovascular health to control not only blood sugar but also cholesterols and blood pressure [3].  Garlic is known to be useful to lower blood glucose level for patients with type II diabetes. A meta-analysis of nine clinical trials with a combined total of 768 diabetes patients reported that taking daily garlic supplement (0.05g to 1.5g) can reduce fasting blood glucose level start from 1-2 weeks when compared to those who did not use garlic. The effect is more pronounced when garlic supplement is taken for longer term for up to 6 months [4].


Savouring a few cups cinnamon tea daily can be an excellent way to reduce your risk of hyperglycaemia.

Cinnamon is a spice that has been treasured by humans for thousands of years with recorded historical usage as early as 2,000 BC by the ancient Egyptians [5].  Like garlic, cinnamon is a traditional remedy for combating rising blood sugar. Its use is now supported by research evidence. According to a meta-analysis of ten clinical studies with a total of 543 diabetes patients, taking daily cinnamon doses of 120 mg to 6 g for 4 to 18 weeks can be effective in reducing levels of fasting blood glucose by 1.365 mmol/L  (24.59 mg/dL) on average  [6]. It can also reduce the total cholesterol level.


The medicinal plant of Gymnema sylvestre – image source Flickr.

Gymnema a traditional herb used in India and Southern China. It is also called Wǔ Xuē Ténɡ (武靴藤) in Chinese medicine [7]. Gymnema is also a popular herb in Western herbal medicine with the documented actions include anti-diabetic, hypoglycaemic, hypocholesterolemic, and anti-obesity [8]. A comprehensive review of scientific studies on Gymnema found that glymnemic acids, the active compounds of Gymnema, can prevent the absorption sugar by blocking the sugar receptor in intestines. This action helps to reduce blood sugar level [9].  Also, Gymnema helps to increase insulin production through the regeneration of β-cells in the pancreas, which improve the absorption of glucose into cells [9].    


Fenugreek seeds are now widely available in health food store.

Fenugreek is another traditional medicinal plant widely used for food, spice and herb that has anti-diabetic effects. It is used as a traditional remedy in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. The herb is called  Hú Lú Bā (胡芦巴) in Chinese [10]. Several clinical trials have shown promising evidence supporting its use add-on treatment to type 2 diabetes [11–13]. In a three-year trial, 66 patients with prediabetes took 5g of fenugreek powder twice a day before meals [14]. Their conditions were tracked and compared to another group of prediabetes patients (control group) who did not take fenugreek. The study found that, after three years, 54.55% of the control group progressed to confirmed diabetes, whereas only 22.97% of the fenugreek group developed diabetes. The fenugreek group also had significantly lower average blood glucose level when compared to that of their control counterpart [14]. Hence, taking fenugreek powder reduced the risk of developing diabetes from prediabetes.


Chromium is available as dietary supplement for blood glucose control.

Chromium is an essential mineral that the body needs a very minute amount to maintain good health. The body needs chromium for insulin regulation and to properly break down carbohydrate, protein and fat [15]. A recent analysis of data from 28 studies found that taking chromium supplement, especially chromium picolinate or chromium chloride formulations, can reduce fasting blood glucose by 0.99 mmol/L on average among type 2 diabetes patients. The typical daily dosage of chromium is between 200 µg to 1000 µg for 6 to 24 weeks [15].


Prediabetes is a warning sign of health. It signifies a needed change in diet and lifestyles. Garlic, cinnamon, Gymnema, fenugreek, and chromium are five natural remedies that can help to improve blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes. The use of these remedies is supported by scientific evidence.


[1]        World Health Organisation, Definition and diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and intermediate hyperglycaemia, Geneva, Switzerland, 2006.

[2]        P. Tuso, Prediabetes and lifestyle modification: time to prevent a preventable disease, Perm. J. 18 (2014) 88–93. doi:10.7812/TPP/14-002.

[3]        L. Bayan, P.H. Koulivand, A. Gorji, Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects, Avicenna J. Phytomedicine. 4 (2014) 1–14.

[4]        J. Wang, X. Zhang, H. Lan, W. Wang, Effect of garlic supplement in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Food Nutr. Res. 61 (2017) 1377571. doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1377571.

[5]        M. Synan, Cinnamon’s Spicy History, History.Com. (2018). (accessed August 31, 2020).

[6]        R.W. Allen, E. Schwartzman, W.L. Baker, C.I. Coleman, O.J. Phung, Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis, Ann. Fam. Med. 11 (2013) 452–459. doi:10.1370/afm.1517.

[7]        武靴藤 (中药材), 中医世家. (n.d.). (accessed August 31, 2020).

[8]        K. Bone, The Ultimate Herbal Compendium, Phytotherapy Press, Warwick, QLD, 2007.

[9]        F. Khan, M.M.R. Sarker, L.C. Ming, I.N. Mohamed, C. Zhao, B.Y. Sheikh, H.F. Tsong, M.A. Rashid, Comprehensive review on phytochemicals, pharmacological and clinical potentials of gymnema sylvestre, Front. Pharmacol. 10 (2019) 1223. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.01223.

[10]      胡芦巴 (中药材), 中医世家. (n.d.). (accessed August 31, 2020).

[11]      R. Kiss, K. Szabó, R. Gesztelyi, S. Somodi, P. Kovács, Z. Szabó, J. Németh, D. Priksz, A. Kurucz, B. Juhász, Z. Szilvássy, Insulin-sensitizer effects of Fenugreek seeds in parallel with changes in plasma MCH levels in healthy volunteers, Int. J. Mol. Sci. 19 (2018) 771. doi:10.3390/ijms19030771.

[12]      N. Kassaian, L. Azadbakht, B. Forghani, M. Amini, Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic  patients., Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. Int. Zeitschrift  Fur Vitamin- Und Ernahrungsforschung. J. Int. Vitaminol. Nutr. 79 (2009) 34–39. doi:10.1024/0300-9831.79.1.34.

[13]      M. Ranade, N. Mudgalkar, A simple dietary addition of fenugreek seed leads to the reduction in blood glucose levels: A parallel group, randomized single-blind trial, Ayu. 38 (2017) 24–27. doi:10.4103/ayu.AYU_209_15.

[14]      A. Gaddam, C. Galla, S. Thummisetti, R.K. Marikanty, U.D. Palanisamy, P. V Rao, Role of Fenugreek in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus in prediabetes, J. Diabetes Metab. Disord. 14 (2015) 74. doi:10.1186/s40200-015-0208-4.

[15]      A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance., Diabetes Educ. Suppl (2004) 2–14.

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