Called ALA for short, this vitamin-like substance neutralizes many types of free radicals. A build-up of free radicals, caused in part by high blood sugar, can lead to nerve damage and other problems. ALA may also help muscle cells take up blood sugar. In a German study, a team of scientists had 40 adults take either an ALA supplement or a placebo. At the end of the four-week study, the ALA group had improved their insulin sensitivity 27 percent. The placebo group showed no improvement. Other studies have shown a decrease in nerve pain, numbness, and burning.
The mice immune systems did not attack the new insulin-producing cells. Most important, according to the findings: The cells produced the right amount of insulin: not so much that they sent a mouse into a blood sugar free fall, not so little that blood sugar levels stayed high. The mice have shown no sign of diabetes for more than a year, according to the findings.
Practitioners agree that nutrition is the cornerstone of diabetes management, and that a range of nutrition intervention strategies can be used to meet the metabolic goals and individual preferences of the person with diabetes. However, there are significant differences in the approach and methodologies used by alternative and conventional practitioners to manage the disease. One difference is in terminology. When is remission really remission?
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
A number of companies are attempting to be the first to produce an artificial pancreas system. An artificial pancreas is likely to be worn outside of the body and would continuously measure blood glucose and deliver an appropriate amount of insulin. It would not necessarily be a cure, but would represent a way of treating type 1 diabetes without injections and without the continual dosing decisions.
The findings, reported in the journal Cell Metabolism, show the cells grown in the lab can reduce blood glucose levels to normal. Professor Evans added: “It was a little bit of a surprise to see that beta cells produce a high level of this regulator, but beta cells have to release massive amounts of insulin quickly to control sugar levels. It’s a very energy-intensive process.”
Sulfonylureas stimulate the beta cells of the pancreas to release more insulin. Sulfonylurea drugs have been in use since the 1950s. Chlorpropamide (Diabinese) is the only first-generation sulfonylurea still in use today. The second generation sulfonylureas are used in smaller doses than the first-generation drugs. There are three second-generation drugs: glimepiride (Amaryl), glipizide (Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL), and glyburide (Micronase, Glynase, and Diabeta). These drugs are generally taken one to two times a day, before meals. All sulfonylurea drugs have similar effects on blood glucose levels, but they differ in side effects, how often they are taken, and interactions with other drugs.
The reason the body stops producing insulin is that it kills off the pancreas’ beta cells, which produce insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must get their insulin from injections or ingestion, a cumbersome and often imprecise task. Too little insulin and blood sugar levels stay high for extended periods, potentially damaging the body; too much and blood sugar levels crash, possibly causing a person with diabetes to faint or experience an even worse problems, such as a stroke.
The diabetes health care team also will let you know what your child's target blood sugar levels are. In general, kids with type 1 diabetes should test their blood sugar levels with a blood glucose meter at least four times a day. Depending on your child's management plan and any problems that arise, blood sugar levels could need to be tested more often.
What’s critical is not necessarily the cutoff itself, but where someone falls within the ranges listed above. The level of risk of developing type 2 diabetes is closely related to A1c or FPG at diagnosis. Those in the higher ranges (A1c closer to 6.4%, FPG closer to 125 mg/dl) are much more likely to progress to type 2 diabetes, whereas those at lower ranges (A1c closer to 5.7%, FPG closer to 100 mg/dl) are relatively more likely to revert back to normal glucose levels or stay within the prediabetes range. Age of diagnosis and the level of insulin production still occurring at diagnosis also impact the chances of reverting to normoglycemia (normal blood sugar levels).
Sometimes people with type 2 diabetes are able to bring their blood glucose levels under control through a combination of weight loss, diet, and exercise, but many people with diabetes take medication to manage their condition. For some, a single diabetes medication is effective, while in other cases a combination of drugs works better. “If diabetes control is suboptimal on the maximum dose of one medication, it’s prudent to add on a second agent,” says Deepashree Gupta, MD, assistant professor of endocrinology at Saint Louis University in Missouri.
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The researchers concluded that the herb might help treat or prevent type 2 diabetes. They noted that S. oblonga appears to act in the same way as today’s oral diabetes drugs (alpha-glucoside inhibitors) in interfering with the absorption of carbohydrates. S. oblonga is not free of side effects, however. It can cause the same gas and cramping as the prescription drugs, particularly in higher doses.
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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.
Diabetes pills are not a form of insulin. They help the body make more insulin or use insulin more effectively. This helps reduce the amount of glucose in the bloodstream between meals and at night, which helps keep blood sugar levels under control. Diabetes pills can also help with weight loss and help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which tend to be abnormal in people with type 2 diabetes.
Herbal products are not well controlled by government. They may not be what the bottle says they are. According to Rodale Press, research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian government both found that many combination herbal capsules contained NONE of the herbs listed on the label. That’s why I mainly recommend plants you can buy and use in their whole form, such as ginger, cinnamon, bitter melon, and okra.
“For me it’s a personal challenge – going from being completely 100% sedentary to climbing the highest mountain in Africa. One thing I’ve learnt on this journey is that I’m capable of so much more than I ever thought possible – and this is just another way of proving that to myself. It’s also a way of showing people with diabetes that there is always greatness within you; that you have the power to change your diagnosis and your destiny one step at a time.”
Another non-insulin injection for people with diabetes is exenatide (Byetta). This medication, originally derived from a compound found in the saliva of the Gila monster, triggers insulin release from the pancreas when blood glucose levels rise. Exenatide is meant to be used along with oral diabetes drugs. It is dosed twice daily and should be injected within an hour of the morning and evening meals. Recently, the FDA warned that exenatide may increase the risk of severe even fatal pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and that the drug should be discontinued and not restarted if signs and symptoms of pancreatitis develop (severe abdominal pain, for example). It is not for use in people with type 1 diabetes.
“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.