In Type 2 diabetes — which makes up 9 out of 10 diabetes cases and is generally associated with older people and weight gain — the cells reject the insulin, causing sugar to build up in the bloodstream even as cells are starved for energy. Type 2 is often treated with pills that tell the cells to let in the insulin. But in Type 2 diabetes, the body also often gradually loses the ability to produce insulin, requiring insulin injections.
This is the advice that diabetics received a hundred years ago. Even in Sweden, with the high fat-Petrén diet that included fatty pork cuts, butter and green cabbage. And when diabetics start eating this way today the same thing happens as it did in the past. Their blood sugar levels improve dramatically from day one. This makes sense, as they avoid eating what raises blood sugar.
In 2003, ephedrine -- also known as ma huang -- became the first herbal stimulant ever banned by the FDA. It was a popular component of over-the-counter weight loss drugs. Ephedrine had some benefits, but it could cause far more harm, especially in high doses: insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep), high blood pressure, glaucoma, and urinary retention. This herbal supplement has also been associated with numerous cases of stroke.
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.
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps turn glucose into fuel for the body. It effectively improves insulin sensitivity and reduces symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, such as weakness, pain and numbness that’s caused by nerve damage. Although we make alpha lipoic acid and it can be found in some food sources, like broccoli, spinach and tomatoes, taking an ALA supplement will increase the amount that circulates in your body, which can be extremely beneficial when trying to reverse diabetes naturally. (17)
So if you really want to prevent diabetes, boost your vitamin D levels with either daily sunshine or quality vitamin D3 supplements. Vitamin D deficiency explains why diabetes is so rampant among African Americans, by the way. Did you notice that doctors don't explain any of this to African American patients? It's the dirty little racist secret of both the diabetes and cancer industries...
Rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (ACTOS) are in a group of drugs called thiazolidinediones. These drugs help insulin work better in the muscle and fat and also reduce glucose production in the liver. The first drug in this group, troglitazone (Rezulin), was removed from the market because it caused serious liver problems in a small number of people. So far rosiglitazone and pioglitazone have not shown the same problems, but users are still monitored closely for liver problems as a precaution. Both drugs appear to increase the risk for heart failure in some individuals, and there is debate about whether rosiglitazone may contribute to an increased risk for heart attacks. Both drugs are effective at reducing A1C and generally have few side effects.
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Over the last century, advancements in new treatments aided by the remarkable developments in computer technology have helped many people better manage the disease, but achieving optimal glucose control remains an unattainable goal for the vast majority of those with diabetes, and particularly among young people. Despite patients' best attempts, managing diabetes remains a challenging, daily balancing act that requires constant vigilance. That's because insulin therapy cannot ideally mimic the exquisite biological function of a healthy pancreas. And that's why the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation remain passionately committed to achieving this singular goal. Learn more about our progress toward a cure and the steps we are taking to turn our vision into reality.
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
The overall goal of treatment with insulin (and other diabetes medicines) is to achieve the best match possible between the amounts of insulin given and the person's individual needs for insulin throughout the day and night. In this way, blood sugar levels can be kept as close to normal as possible to help avoid both short- and long-term problems from diabetes.
“People need to understand the continuum of diabetes,” she says. “If they’re on an upward trajectory of insulin resistance and a downward trajectory of insulin production weight loss, healthful eating and physical activity will slow down the insulin-loss trajectory and improve insulin sensitivity.” But, she says, “If they gain weight back, the diabetes comes back.”
The Chinese character for Yin originally meant the shady side of a slope. Qualities characteristic of Yin include cold, stillness, darkness, inwardness, passivity, decrease, and downwardness. In contrast, the Chinese character for Yang originally meant the sunny side of the slope, and qualities characteristic of Yang include heat, movement, brightness, outwardness, stimulation, excitement, increase, and upwardness.4 Illnesses that are characterized by coldness, weakness, slowness, and underactivity are considered Yin (e.g., hypothyroidism: cold limbs, fatigue, slowed metabolism). Illnesses that manifest strength, forceful movement, heat, and overactivity are Yang (e.g., acute infections with fever and sweating).
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 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.
If you are someone who has struggled with the roller coaster of blood sugar management, I have some good news! Research shows that there are common herbs and spices, likely ones that you already have in your kitchen, that have some potential positive effects on improving blood sugar. Today, I’m breaking down some of the superstar herbs and spices that data has indicated may help with blood sugar management.
In some kids with diabetes, repeated insulin injections can cause a thickening or lumpiness of the fatty tissue beneath the skin, called lipodystrophy (or lipohypertrophy). This is more likely if injections are given in the same area again and again rather than in different injection sites as recommended. Usually, this is only a cosmetic problem. But in some cases, insulin injected in areas of skin with lipodystrophy may not be absorbed into the bloodstream as it should. This can make the insulin dose take longer than usual to work.
One of the most advanced alternatives comes from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) in the US, which is developing a bioengineered mini-organ where insulin-producing cells are encapsulated within a protective barrier. Two years ago, the DRI announced that the first patient treated in an ongoing Phase I/II trial no longer requires insulin therapy.