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Drumstick Leaves - A Natural Way to Manage Diabetes

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  • Drumstick or Moringa oleifera leaves help maintain normal blood sugar levels and thus may act as a natural way to manage diabetes.
  • Drumstick leaves contain nutrients which increase insulin secretion in the body.
  • The leaves also have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Moringa leaves are rich in antioxidants.
Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common non-communicable diseases that affect mankind. It is a chronic metabolic disorder that results in an elevated blood sugar in the patient due to the faulty release of insulin (a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels) or insulin resistance in the body. Elevated blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time lead to various complications. Drumstick or Moringa oleifera leaves have been found to display anti-diabetic properties by lowering blood sugar levels. This plant may, therefore, be a natural way to combat diabetes.

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Drumstick Leaves - A Natural Way to Manage Diabetes
Drumstick Leaves - A Natural Way to Manage Diabetes

Moringa is native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in the North-Western part of India. Moringa tree is widely grown in home gardens in South India. Various parts of the tree have medicinal properties, but the leaves are the most nutritious as they contain vitamin B, C, K, beta-carotene, and protein, besides other nutrients. Studies have revealed that drumstick leaves have anti-diabetic properties as they help maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Drumstick Leaves Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Drumstick leaves are rich in ascorbic acid, which leads to an increase in insulin secretion in the body, thereby reducing blood sugar levels.

A research published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition revealed that when a controlled study was conducted on rats, the rats that consumed a powder of drumstick leaves showed an improvement in glucose tolerance.

Another research published in the International Journal of Health and Nutrition revealed that a study was conducted on human patients with diabetes who were administered drumstick leaf supplement for 3 months. Their blood glucose levels were measured at the end of every month. The blood glucose levels showed a decline every month, with the most significant drop after three months of regular consumption of the supplement.

Anti-inflammatory Properties of Drumstick Leaves

Patients with diabetes mellitus gradually develop circulatory problems that lead to multi-organ complications. An important reason for these is chronic inflammation and release of cytokines (proteins that regulate inflammation) seen in diabetes. Drumstick leaves exhibit anti-inflammatory properties due to the phenolic glycosides they contain and therefore help in preventing circulatory disturbances in diabetic patients.

Antioxidant Properties

Diabetes mellitus is associated with increased oxidative stress which causes vascular damage. The increase in the number of free radicals results in an increase in the susceptibility of organs like liver and kidneys to damage. Moringa leaves contain bioactive chemicals which have antioxidant properties and act against free radicals, thus preventing oxidative damage. This has a major role in the management of diabetes and its complications.

Hypotensive Effects

Diabetes damages the arteries and predisposes them to atherosclerosis (hardening). This may result in hypertension (elevation of blood pressure) which may lead to heart attack, stroke or heart failure if left untreated. Drumstick leaves have been used in the treatment of hypertension since the time Ayurveda became known to man. A research study published in Phytotherapy Research revealed a significant lowering of blood pressure in animals administered the extract of drumstick leaves.

Effect on Lipid Profile

Diabetes causes disturbances in the lipid profile of patients as there is increased lipid peroxidation due to oxidative stress associated with the disease. As drumstick leaves have antioxidant properties, they positively influence the lipid profile. Drumstick leaves show a tendency to lower cholesterol in patients. Though this may not directly affect the blood pressure, it does so indirectly by avoiding the deposition of cholesterol in the artery walls, avoiding further vascular damage.

Weight Management

Weight management is an important lifestyle modification needed in a diabetic patient as maintaining optimal weight helps in maintaining blood glucose levels better. Drumstick leaves help in weight loss as they contain more protein. Protein provides satiety and helps reduce hunger pangs between meals. They provide a good source of energy, which does not contain sugar. Therefore, if used as an adjunct to an active lifestyle, drumstick leaves can prove beneficial in weight loss.

Side Effects

The benefits of drumstick leaves are no doubt innumerable. Despite the fact that UNESCO terms Moringa as 'a non-toxic, easily digestible source of nutrition', users have reported certain side-effects:
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart-burn
  • Nausea
These side-effects have mostly been reported when the dose was exceeded.
  • Moringa should not be taken with an anticoagulant (blood thinner) like warfarin or heparin as it may cause bleeding.
The benefits of the leaves seem to outweigh its risks. Therefore, Moringa oleifera has been rightfully termed as 'The Wonder Tree' and management of diabetes is one of the salient benefits it offers.

Source: Medindia

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