Gymnema Sylvestre is a vine native to Central & South India. Used in traditional Indian medicine since the 6th century BC, the leaves of this plant contain ‘gymnemic acids’ that have the amazing ability to slow down the transport of glucose from the intestines to the bloodstream. Some scientists even believe that Gymnema Sylvestre extract can help repair and regenerate pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin!
According to TCM, diet plays an important role in maintaining health and treating disease. In the TCM paradigm, foods are valued and prescribed for their energetic and therapeutic properties rather than solely for their chemical makeup. Attention is paid to the quantity, quality, method of preparation, and time of food intake, as well as to the patient’s body type, age, vitality; geographic location; and seasonal influences.
It’s not just easy, but also tasty to add spices and herbs that lower blood sugar to your diet. Most of these can be used in everyday recipes. If you are looking for inspiration on how to start cooking with these, try out these recipes from our recipe section – Mushroom-stuffed Turkey, Stuffed Peppers, Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza, Courgette Carrot & Tomato Frittata, Moussaka, Vegetable Stir Fry, and Roasted Butternut Squash
Meanwhile, American Diabetes Scientist Zhen Gu, PhD, a professor in the Joint University of North Carolina/North Carolina State University Department of Biomedical Engineering, is working to develop a “smart insulin” patch that imitates the body's beta cells by both sensing blood glucose levels and releasing insulin using a nanotechnology that leverages bioengineering, biochemistry and materials science.
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors help control blood sugar levels by preventing the digestion of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include starchy foods like potatoes and corn. They also include most grains (bread, rice, crackers, cereal) and sugary sweets. The two medicines in this group are acarbose and miglitol. These medicines may cause bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and flatulence (gas).
In type 1 diabetes, patients sometimes experience what physicians have come to call a "honeymoon period" shortly after the disease is diagnosed. During the "honeymoon period" diabetes may appear to go away for a period of a few months to a year. The patient's insulin needs are minimal and some patients may actually find they can maintain normal or near normal blood glucose taking little or no insulin.
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.
2. Biguanides Metformin is the only form of biguanide currently available. While it may promote modest weight loss and a slight decline in LDL, or "bad," cholesterol, side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, and (when other risk factors are present) the harmful buildup of lactic acid. Glucophage, Glumteza, and Riomet are some brand-name types of metformin available for use.
Foods with a low glycemic load: The glycemic index of a food tells you about the blood glucose-raising potential of the food. Foods that have a high glycemic index are converted into sugar after being eaten more quickly than low glycemic foods. If you are fighting diabetes, stick to low glycemic foods like non-starchy vegetables, stone fruits and berries, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, organic meat, eggs, wild-caught fish, and raw pastured dairy.
Currently, people with diabetes who receive a transplanted pancreas (typically not possible unless you are also having a kidney transplant) or who receive islet-cell transplants as part of a research study in the US must take these drugs so that their own body won’t attack the new cells. The drugs work, but raise risk for bacterial and viral infections as well as for mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fatigue and even some cancers.
Diabetes is a disease characterized by a person’s inability to process carbohydrates, a condition that if untreated can lead to often-catastrophic health consequences: lethargy, diminished eyesight, heart attacks, strokes, blindness and a loss of circulation in the feet that could lead to amputation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that in 2014, about 29 million Americans – almost 1 in 10 – had diabetes.
Many people have heard about type 2 diabetes, but its common precursor, prediabetes, doesn’t get as much attention. Prediabetes is estimated by CDC to affect 86 million Americans (51% of whom are 65 years and older), and an estimated 90% of people with prediabetes don’t even know it. According to the CDC, 15-30% of these individuals will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. In other words, as many as 26 million people that currently have prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes by 2020, effectively doubling the number of people with type 2 diabetes in the US.
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.
Curcumin. The compound curcumin, which is found in the spice tumeric, has been shown to both boost blood sugar control and help prevent the disease. In a nine-month study of 240 adults with pre-diabetes, those who took curcumin capsules (which are available over-the-counter) completely avoided developing diabetes while a sixth of patients in the placebo group did.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If your blood sugar level drops below your target range, it's known as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Your blood sugar level can drop for many reasons, including skipping a meal, inadvertently taking more medication than usual or getting more physical activity than normal. Low blood sugar is most likely if you take glucose-lowering medications that promote the secretion of insulin or if you're taking insulin.
Formal recommendations on how to reverse type 2 diabetes in clinical practice must await further studies. In the meantime, it will be helpful for all individuals with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes to know that they have a metabolic syndrome that is reversible. They should know that if it is not reversed, the consequences for future health and cost of life insurance are dire, although these serious adverse effects must be balanced against the difficulties and privations associated with a substantial and sustained change in eating patterns. For many people, this may prove to be too high a price to pay, but for those who are strongly motivated to escape from type 2 diabetes, the new understanding gives clear direction. Physicians need to accept that long-term weight loss is achievable for a worthwhile proportion of patients (96). In the United States, diabetes costs $174 billion annually (97), and in the United Kingdom, it accounts for 10% of National Health Service expenditure. Even if only a small proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes return to normal glucose control, the savings in disease burden and economic cost will be enormous.
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.
Auricular acupuncture (inserting needles into specific points on the ear) may be used alone or in conjunction with body acupuncture. According to TCM, the entire body is represented on the ear. Examination of the ears often reveals surface irregularities, such as superficial capillaries, scars, pitting, pimples, flaking, discoloration, or swelling. Upon probing the auricle of the ear with a rounded, blunt instrument the practitioner may discover tender areas that may correspond to the area of the patient’s pain or disturbance.10 A sample auricular treatment for diabetes might include needling a master point, for example, Shen Men (a good point for almost all disorders), along with the endocrine point, lung point (for thirst), stomach point (for hunger), kidney and bladder points (for frequent urination), and pancreas point (for increasing insulin secretion).7
Schedule a yearly physical exam and regular eye exams. Your regular diabetes checkups aren't meant to replace regular physicals or routine eye exams. During the physical, your doctor will look for any diabetes-related complications, as well as screen for other medical problems. Your eye care specialist will check for signs of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.
An unbalanced microbiome composition, known as dysbiosis, has been found in patients with diabetes, for whom the diversity of the gut microbiome is often reduced as compared to healthy people. Researchers from the University of Amsterdam recently showed that fecal transplants, used to transfer the microbiome of a healthy person to the gut of one with diabetes, can result in a short-term improvement of the insulin resistance found in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
You’re probably referring to Salacia oblonga (or S. oblonga) an herb traditionally used in Indian medicine to help control the increase in blood sugar that follows a meal. A study published in the January 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a drink made with the herb blunts this effect and also reduces insulin levels. S. oblonga grows in India and Sri Lanka, but is not well known in the United States, and has not been widely researched.
People with diabetes are unable to control the level of sugar in their blood, usually due to a breakdown in how their bodies use the hormone insulin. It’s not completely clear how obesity can contribute to diabetes, but it is known that excess weight is associated with chronic inflammation and a dysfunctional metabolism. And these factors in turn make it easier for someone to stop responding to the presence of insulin as easily as they once did. So by using surgery to help very obese people with diabetes lose weight, the logic goes, you can indirectly treat or prevent the condition. But doctors such as David Cummings, a senior investigator at the University of Washington’s Diabetes & Obesity Center of Excellence, are pushing back against this way of thinking.
“Type 1 diabetes affects about one in every 100 companion animals in the U.S., including dogs and cats, and approximately 1.25 million American children and adults,” Purdue University reports. “Because diabetes in dogs happens similarly in humans, treatment has so far been largely the same: Both need their glucose to be monitored throughout the day and insulin to be administered after meals.”
Acupuncture is a procedure where a practitioner inserts very thin needles into specific points on your skin. Some scientists say that acupuncture triggers the release of the body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture has been shown to offer relief from chronic pain and is sometimes used by people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage that can happen with diabetes.
John’s naturopath, Susan DeLaney, ND, RN, from The Wellness Alliance in Carrboro, North Carolina, considers diabetes to be reversed when an individual is no longer dependent on medication to maintain blood glucose levels within a fairly normal range. Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN, owner of Swift Nutrition and author of The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, describes reversal of diabetes as “restoring function and bringing the body back into glycemic balance.”