What is Low Blood Sugar?
Glucose is the body’s key fuel source. The body as well as the brain require adequate amount of glucose to work properly. When this blood glucose level or blood sugar level drops below the normal level, it is called low blood sugar, low blood glucose or Hypoclycemia. Most often, it affects those people who are at the extremes of age, such as infants and the elderly. But this is not necessary, it may occur at any age. People with diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes are more likely to suffer from severe low blood sugar. Experts have suggested a number of herbs, nuts and seeds as effective natural home remedies for low blood sugar.
Normal Blood Glucose levels in people who do not have diabetes:
Upon waking—fasting: 70 to 99
After meals: 70 to 140
Target Blood Glucose levels in people who have diabetes:
Before meals: 70 to 130
1 to 2 hours after the start of a meal: below 180 (All units in mg/dL.)
These ranges have been laid down by American Diabetes Association (ADA). Blood glucose level below 70 mg/dL is considered low blood sugar or hypoglycemia in case of people who have diabetes. At the same time, different blood glucose levels can manifest different symptoms in different people. In other words, there is no definite and fixed range that can be applicable to all.
People who do not have diabetes can have two types of hypoglycemia, that is, reactive and fasting hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia takes place within 4 hours after having meals and is more common in overweight people. On the other hand, fasting hypoglycemia occurs as a result of an underlying disease. Blood glucose level below 50 mg/dL after an overnight fast, between meals or after physical activity indicates fasting hypoglycemia. If there is an emergency attack of low blood sugar then the best home remedy would be to give the patient a piece of candy to raise the body’s glucose levels temporarily.
Causes of Low Blood Sugar
The problem of low blood sugar mostly affects people with diabetes. Certain diabetes medications such as antidiabetic pills increase the insulin production of the body which causes the condition of low blood sugar. Thus, too strict a treatment for diabetes by taking too much of diabetes medicines increases insulin production in the body and lowers the blood sugar levels. Therefore, diabetes treatment plans should be designed in such a manner so as to match the dose and timing of medication to the patient’s usual schedule of meals and activities.
Delaying or skipping a meal altogether, meals or snacks that are too small, drinking alcohol, and an increase in the physical activity like exercising more than usual are some of the common causes of low blood sugar. In case of drinking alcoholic beverages, it has been found that the body’s breakdown of alcohol interferes with the liver’s efforts to raise blood glucose. Low blood sugar due to excessive drinking can be serious and even fatal.
Besides, antipsychotics drugs such as haloperidol, aspirin like drugs, and quinine like drugs increase the risk of low blood sugar. A benign tumor in the insulin-producing pancreas like mesothelioma, hepatoma or fibrosarcoma, severe reduction in liver function, Addison’s disease, weakened pituitary gland or other hormone or enzyme deficiencies may cause low blood sugar in non diabetic people. Problems caused by stomach surgery and metabolic problems that run in families can also cause low blood sugar.
Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar includes symptoms like headaches, hunger, weakness, irritability, mood swings, impatience, paleness, nervousness, rapid heartbeat and nausea in mild cases. The symptoms usually disappear within 10-15 minutes after consuming sugar. Severe cases of low blood sugar/ hypoglycemia are accompanied by symptoms like blurred vision, palpitations, aggression, dizziness, shaking, drowsiness, untimely temporary loss of consciousness, difficulty in concentration, severe fatigue, sweating, anxiety, confusion and even coma. Studies have shown that around 50 percent of severe low blood sugar cases take place between midnight and 8 a.m.
Natural Home Remedies for Low Blood Sugar
• An apple a day keeps the doctor away. So, eating two small apples (with peels) daily is beneficial in the treatment of low blood sugar.
• If the low blood sugar is caused by overexertion or due to under nutrition then molasses in the form of sherbet can help prevent fainting due to low blood sugar.
• Taking pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raw nuts is a very simple and equally effective natural home remedy for the treatment of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
• Chestnuts, cashews, and coconuts have a lower potassium / higher sodium ratio thus useful in sustaining higher blood sugar levels.
• Drinking fresh tomato juice daily can cure hypoglycemia within two weeks.
• Herbs such as angostura bitters (or any combination of bitters), artichoke leaf, and gentian root control the blood sugar levels.
• Natural sweeteners such as stevia, barley malt syrup, molasses, and brown rice syrup can be used to replace sugar.
• Wild Yam and bilberry assist in controlling insulin levels.
• The Ayurvedic herb, Gudmar also acts as an effective cure.
• Milk thistle protects the liver and improves its functioning and hence guards against low blood sugar due to liver problems.
• Dandelion root helps in dealing with low blood sugar by improving the functioning of the pancreas and the liver.
• Other herbs such as raspberry leaves, Echinacea, Pau d’Arco, Uva-ursi and parsley also have therapeutic properties.
Diet for Low Blood Sugar
A diet consisting of complex carbohydrates like adequate amounts of grains, beans, lentils, pulses, fruits and vegetables, milk, milk products, raw seeds and nuts is essential in the treatment and healing procedure required for hypoglycemia patients. Also, a number of smaller meals should be equally spread throughout the day instead of having the usual three bulky meals to avoid big fluctuations in the insulin secretion from the pancreas. Avoid refined and processed foods with high amounts of white sugar and white flour (breads, biscuits, pasta etc) and other canned and packaged foods. Artificial colors and preservatives are also harmful. Carbonated drinks and caffeine containing beverages, tobacco and chocolates can cause blood sugar fluctuations and hence they are best avoided.
Foods rich in vitamin C and vitamin B aid in regulating the sugar metabolism by increasing the tolerance of sugar and carbohydrates. Vitamin E improves the glycogen storage in muscles and tissues. Sweet fruit juices like grape or prune juice can be consumed but they should be diluted in water. Sodium and potassium contribute in causing low blood sugar by slowing the insulin response of the body. So, the amount of salt intake in the diet should be lesser.