Also called weight-loss surgery or metabolic surgery, bariatric surgery may help some people with obesity and type 2 diabetes lose a large amount of weight and regain normal blood glucose levels. Some people with diabetes may no longer need their diabetes medicine after bariatric surgery. Whether and for how long blood glucose levels improve seems to vary by the patient, type of weight-loss surgery, and amount of weight the person loses. Other factors include how long someone has had diabetes and whether or not the person uses insulin.1
"You only need 10 percent of your beta cells to supply sufficient insulin," Roep said. He said there have been a couple of rare cases where a patient had typical type 1 diabetes but could go through long periods without insulin injections. "Insulin needs can be a moving target, and if you have a lifestyle change it's very plausible that you have a lesser need for insulin, and you can deal with [diabetes] with the beta cells you have," Roep said.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30.3 million people have diabetes, or some 9.4% of the US population. Type 1 diabetes sufferers’ pancreases make very little insulin or none at all. Without insulin—the hormone that enables blood sugar to enter the cells in your body where it can be used for energy—blood sugar can’t get into cells and dangerously builds up in the bloodstream.
Type 1 diabetes is a particularly unpleasant condition. It occurs when the pancreas ceases to produce the insulin needed by the body to metabolize sugar and, until the invention of artificial insulin injections, it was as deadly as cancer. Type 2 is the less severe form of the disease, where the body produces insufficient insulin; it can often be managed through diet alone.
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is necessary for the body’s overall health. Erratic blood sugar levels can affect the body’s ability to function normally and even lead to complications if left unchecked. Some herbs and spices found in nature do a tremendous job of naturally lowering blood sugar levels, making them a boon for diabetics and pre-diabetics. What’s more, being nature’s multi-taskers, herbs and spices also produce overall health benefits beyond just helping balance blood sugar.
Oral diabetes medications may also come in combination tablets such as Metaglip (glipizide/metformin), Prandimet (repaglinide/metformin), Glucovance (glyburide/metformin), Janumet (sitagliptin/metformin), Avandamet (rosiglitazone/metformin), Avandaryl (rosiglitazone/ glimepiride), Duetact (pioglitazone/glimepiride), Actoplus Met (pioglitazone/metformin).
Researcher Qizhi Tang, PhD, at the University of California, San Francisco, is studying the changes induced in beta cells by the shortage of oxygen and nutrients. Stem cell-derived islets have a low survival rate in the first few days after transplant due to the lack of adequate oxygen and nutrient supplies. However, the American Diabetes Association states, “Evidence suggests that beta cells can be trained to survive oxygen and nutrient shortages that they are exposed to before and after transplantation.”
Cinnamonium cassia and its relative C. burmanii are the types of cinnamon that have the best effect on diabetes symptoms. There have been numerous studies on cinnamon and, overall, they have shown cinnamon can slow stomach emptying and lower postprandial glucose levels. It also reduces glucose levels in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients who have had poor diabetic control. It may also be helpful in lowering insulin levels, blood pressure, and A1C, and reduce AGE formation. This is a safe herb for diabetics. A good dose is 1 to 2 g a day or 200 mg or more of a concentrated extract.
“Three years after receiving two administrations of the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine four weeks apart, all members of a group of adults with longstanding type 1 diabetes showed an improvement in HbA1c to near normal levels – improvement that persisted for the following five years. The study from a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team – published in npj Vaccines – also reports that the effects of BCG vaccine on blood sugar control appear to depend on a totally novel metabolic mechanism that increases cellular consumption of glucose.
"Yes, it's a frustrating case," Darkes told Live Science in an email. "But the doctors have to be as accurate as they can be with what's happened, so they've given a 2-year time scale for completed type 1 reversal." Darkes explained that if he can go without insulin injections for two years, his doctors will be 100 percent sure his diabetes is gone.
Why do people develop prediabetes? Prediabetes develops through a combination of factors that are still being investigated. For sure, lifestyle factors (food, exercise, stress, sleep) play a role, but family history and genetics certainly do as well. It is easy to assume that prediabetes is the result of being overweight, but the relationship is not that simple. While obesity is one underlying cause of insulin resistance, many overweight individuals may never develop prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, and a minority of people with prediabetes have never been overweight. To make matters worse, it can be increasingly difficult to make healthy choices in today’s toxic food environment that steers all of us to make the wrong food choices, and there are many factors that can contribute to weight gain in addition to diet.
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.
Whole-body insulin resistance is the earliest predictor of type 2 diabetes onset, and this mainly reflects muscle insulin resistance (26). However, careful separation of the contributions of muscle and liver have shown that early improvement in control of fasting plasma glucose level is associated only with improvement in liver insulin sensitivity (20,21). It is clear that the resumption of normal or near-normal diurnal blood glucose control does not require improvement in muscle insulin sensitivity. Although this finding may at first appear surprising, it is supported by a wide range of earlier observations. Mice totally lacking in skeletal muscle insulin receptors do not develop diabetes (27). Humans who have the PPP1R3A genetic variant of muscle glycogen synthase cannot store glycogen in muscle after meals but are not necessarily hyperglycemic (28). Many normoglycemic individuals maintain normal blood glucose levels with a degree of muscle insulin resistance identical to those with type 2 diabetes (29).
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.
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.