Western or conventional therapies for diabetes have been geared toward regulating blood glucose with a combination of diet modification, insulin and/or oral pharmacological agents, weight loss when appropriate, and exercise. Although Western medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) share the diabetes treatment goals of reducing symptoms and preventing complications, their approaches to conceptualizing, diagnosing, and treating the disease are very different. This article will outline the key concepts and therapies of TCM that play a role in the evaluation and treatment of diabetic patients.

Researchers are working on vaccines to prevent someone with type 1 diabetes from losing their insulin producing cells. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system turns on its own insulin producing cells and periodically kills them off. A successful vaccine would prevent this from happening. The vaccine has been successful in rodents but vaccines have yet to demonstrate the same success in human trials.

Metformin: The DPP study found that metformin, the safest first-line therapy for type 2 diabetes, may help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes. Participants who took the low-cost generic drug had a 31% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to the control group (those not on metformin or intensive lifestyle intervention). Again, 15-year follow up data showed that 17% of those on metformin continued to have a significant reduction in type 2 progression. At this time, metformin (or any other medication, for that matter) is not currently FDA approved for prediabetes, and it is sometimes prescribed “off-label” by a healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can give you more information and determine whether metformin is a good option for you.
The core problem is insulin. Most people naturally secrete that substance when they eat something with carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes and candy bars. Insulin acts like a concierge that escorts the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells, providing the cells with the energy to function. In most people, the body is continually monitoring blood sugar and producing insulin as needed.
Grains: Grains, especially gluten-containing grains like wheat, contain large amounts of carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar within only a few minutes of consumption. Gluten can cause intestinal inflammation, which affects hormones like cortisol and leptin, and can lead to spikes in blood sugar. I recommend removing all grains from your diet for 90 days as your body adjusts to this healing program. Then you can try bringing sprouted ancient grains back into your diet in small amounts.
Some studies show that certain plant foods may help your body fight inflammation and use insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. Cinnamon extracts can improve sugar metabolism, triggering insulin release, which also boosts cholesterol metabolism. Clove oil extracts (eugenol) have been found to help insulin work and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. An unidentified compound in coffee (not caffeine) may enhance insulin sensitivity and lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Cloves protect the heart, liver and lens of the eye of diabetic rats, according to studies. This spice contains 30% of the antioxidant phenol in dry weight, along with antioxidants anthocyanins and quercetin. As a result, cloves have antiseptic as well as germicidal properties. It also offers anti-inflammatory, analgesic and digestive health benefits for diabetics.
TCM is a system of healing that originated thousands of years ago. It has evolved into a well-developed, coherent system of medicine that uses several modalities to treat and prevent illness. The most commonly employed therapeutic methods in TCM include acupuncture/moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, diet therapy, mind/body exercises (Qigong and Tai Chi), and Tui Na (Chinese massage).3

Dr. Mona Morstein is a naturopathic physician with a medical practice focused in integrative diabetes treatment. Her clinic, Arizona Integrative Medical Solutions, is located in Tempe, Arizona, where she sees patients of all ages and genders for acute and chronic conditions. An expert on prediabetes and diabetes, she is a frequent lecturer at conferences and webinars, and is the founder and executive director of The Low Carb Diabetes Association. Dr. Morstein is also a member of the Arizona Diabetes Coalition. Visit her website lowcarbdiabetes.org
TCM does not offer a cure for diabetes, but instead aims to optimize the body’s ability to function normally. There is still a great need for more and better research on the efficacy and safety of both Chinese herbals, which are being used along with or in lieu of Western pharmaceuticals, and acupuncture in the care of diabetic patients. Patients, TCM practitioners, and physicians who choose to integrate the two forms of care must all recognize the importance of careful monitoring of blood glucose levels, as well as monitoring for potential side effects such as drug-herb interactions.
The acids and digestive juices in the stomach and intestines can break down and destroy insulin if it is swallowed, so it can't be taken as a pill. The only way to get insulin into the body now is by injection with a needle or with an insulin pump. Unless they're using an insulin pump, most kids need two or more injections every day to keep blood sugar levels under control. Usually, two different types of insulin are needed to handle blood sugar needs both after eating and between meals.

The study included 298 patients, aged 20 to 65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the previous six years. Half of the patients were put on a low-calorie diet and lost an average of 10 to 15 kg (22 to 33 pounds). The other half of patients, who served as a control group, received the best diabetes management available — but that did not include a weight loss program.
Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their disease by making healthy food choices and being more physically active. Many people with type 2 diabetes need diabetes medicines as well. These medicines may include diabetes pills or medicines you inject under your skin, such as insulin. In time, you may need more than one diabetes medicine to control your blood glucose. Even if you do not take insulin, you may need it at special times, such as during pregnancy or if you are in the hospital.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), survival rests solely on how well the patient can follow their prescribed plan. Most patients who do not develop any complications within 10-20 years can live long healthy lives. Factors like motivation, awareness, intelligence level and the patient’s education usually determine the survival rate of Type 1 Diabetes.


Oskar Minkowski and Joseph Von Mering met accidently in a library in 1889. Striking up a conversation, they began to debate whether the pancreas helped digest and absorb fats. Performing a pancreatectomy on a dog that same night, they found the dog developed glycosuria, a condition associated with diabetes that causes the production of a lot of urine. Minkowski found the urine was 12% sugar. They then depancreatized another dog and found that prevented hyperglycemia.

Use any combination of the tricks below to accelerate your weight loss and return to good health. If you use all five wisely, you can get to your ideal weight in 6–12 months or less — even if that means losing 100 pounds or more. Yes, think about your weight 10, 20, 30 years ago. Another friend of mine started on this journey last year weighing 270 pounds. He’s in his mid-thirties and about to reach his college wrestling weight class of 197 pounds and just ran his fastest 2 miles ever. He got to this point by following the two rules above and just 3 of the 5 tricks below.

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