Chamomile tea is amongst the favorite kinds of herbal teas all over the world due to its fruity apple like taste and many health benefits. It is known to boost the immune system, promote healthy bone development and has the potential to aid in the prevention of cancer. It is also extremely beneficial when it comes to development of clear healthy skin. However, one of the health benefits of chamomile tea that is not as commonly known, or appreciated is its ability to help regulate blood sugar levels, thereby helping to control and prevent diabetes. So while you’ve been sipping on a cup of chamomile tea each day, you’ve unknowingly been regulating your blood sugar levels and keeping the various complications arising from the condition, at bay!
Anyone can be affected by diabetes and the numbers are increasing dramatically. As of 2015, 30.3 million people in the United States, or 9.4 percent of the population, had diabetes. So what is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when a person’s blood glucose level is too high. Blood glucose is our main source of energy and comes from the food we eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into our cells to be used for energy. Sometimes however, this mechanism does not work and glucose then stays in the blood, unable to reach the cells. Over time, having too much glucose in the blood can cause health problems like blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure and strokes.
There are several kinds of diabetes, the most common ones being type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes also known as juvenile diabetes, your body does not make insulin because your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that are responsible for insulin production. This type is usually common in children and young adults but can appear at any age. Such individuals need to take insulin from external sources. However, precise insulin intake is necessary to avoid hypoglycemia, in which the body burns too much glucose causing blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels. On the other hand, too little insulin can result in hyperglycemia, causing blood sugar levels to rise to dangerously high levels, leading to long-term complications.
Type 2 diabetes
The most common form of diabetes is called type 2, or non-insulin dependent diabetes. This is also called “adult onset” diabetes, since it typically develops after age 35. However, it does not mean that younger people cannot develop type 2. Infact, a large number actually are. People with type 2 are able to produce some of their own insulin however, it’s mostly not enough.
In most cases, type 2 is common in people who are overweight, with a sedentary lifestyle. Treatment focuses on diet and exercise. If blood sugar levels are still high, oral medications are used to help the body use its own insulin more efficiently. In some cases, insulin injections are necessary.
How does chamomile tea help control diabetes?
In order to answer this question, we’ll look at several researches conducted by scientists all over the world to study the effects of compounds present in chamomile in order to regulate blood sugar levels and its potential to control/prevent diabetes.
- Dr Atsushi Kato and colleagues from the University of Toyama in Japan and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research carried out a research, studying the effects of chamomile tea and its chemical components on cells in a rat model of diabetes. The researchers wanted to see whether chamomile tea might be able to prevent the high levels of sugar in the blood (hyperglycaemia) that occur in diabetes or prevent some of the complications associated with diabetes. The researchers concluded that, “daily consumption of chamomile tea with meals could be potentially useful in the prevention and self-medication of hyperglycemia and diabetic complications”
- Researchers from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences aimed to investigate how the effects of chamomile tea would affect glycemic control and antioxidant levels in type 2 subjects. 64 participants with type 2 diabeteswere recruited, all of whom were aged between 30 and 60. They consumed chamomile tea three times per day immediately after meals for eight weeks. A control group also followed this routine, but they drank water instead. The chamomile tea group had significantly reduced HbA1c and serum insulin levels, as well as significantly increased total antioxidant capacity compared to those in the control group. The researchers concluded that chamomile tea could be useful in reducing diabetes risk factors.
- Associate Professor Richard Blackburn, head of the Sustainable Materials Research Group at the University of Leeds, and a group of scientists spent the last few year studying how certain natural compounds can help to control blood glucose levels. They had screened several plant extracts and identified German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) as very effective in controlling diabetes in 2017. They found four compounds present in chamomile that, taken together, were able to modulate carbohydrate digestion and absorption. Put simply, they have the potential of controlling or even preventing diabetes. The compounds were apigenin-7-O-glucoside, apigenin, (Z) and (E)−2-hydroxy-4-methoxycinnamic acid glucosides.
There are many other researches supporting chamomile’s ability to help with diabetes. Simply put, a cup or two of chamomile tea a day can do wonders for someone suffering or likely to suffer from this disease. However, it should be used as an addition to your various efforts to regulate your blood sugar, not the only one. Other steps which should be included in this lifestyle are regular exercise and eating balanced meals, along with any medication that your doctor prescribes.