Together with evidence of normalization of insulin secretion after bariatric surgery (84), insights into the behavior of the liver and pancreas during hypocaloric dieting lead to a hypothesis of the etiology and pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes (Fig. 6): The accumulation of fat in liver and secondarily in the pancreas will lead to self-reinforcing cycles that interact to bring about type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver leads to impaired fasting glucose metabolism and increases export of VLDL triacylglycerol (85), which increases fat delivery to all tissues, including the islets. The liver and pancreas cycles drive onward after diagnosis with steadily decreasing β-cell function. However, of note, observations of the reversal of type 2 diabetes confirm that if the primary influence of positive calorie balance is removed, then the processes are reversible (21).
“I am extremely pleased to see that technology developed in Tejal Desai’s group is getting to the point that we can explore this for therapeutic purposes,” Matthias Hebrok, PhD, the director of the Diabetes Center at UCSF and a member of Encellin’s scientific advisory board, noted on the UCSF website. “Encapsulation and protection of islet cells remain a critical hurdle that needs to be overcome before cell therapy becomes a reality in type 1 diabetes.”
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the United States. The morbidity and mortality associated with the disease is significant and derives primarily from complications of persistent hyperglycemia. Longstanding hyperglycemia has been shown to lead to vascular complications involving large and small blood vessels, such as arteriosclerosis, glomerulosclerosis, and retinopathy. Diabetic neuropathy, characterized by pain and paresthesias, is among the most frequent complications of longstanding, poorly controlled diabetes and is often associated with a reduction in physical activity and with sleep disturbances.1,2
What can people with prediabetes do to avoid the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes? The most important action people diagnosed with prediabetes can take is to focus on living a healthy lifestyle. This includes making healthy food choices, controlling portions, and increasing physical activity. Regarding weight control, research shows losing 5-7% (often about 10–20 lbs.) from your initial body weight and keeping off as much of that weight over time as possible is critical to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. This task is of course easier said than done, but sustained weight loss over time can be key to improving health and delaying or preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
One of the most studied programs in the National Institutes of Health’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). This program helps people who have pre-diabetes or a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes lose weight. Studies of the program have found that those who lost about seven percent of their initial weight, kept some of it off, and maintained an exercise program delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes for three years in 58% of cases.
Scientists are cautious, and research is continuing, but evidence is growing that the diet can indeed remove the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. The question for researchers, who are now working on identifying the type of diet that can keep diabetes at bay after reversal, is once we've beaten the condition, how do we improve our lifestyle so it doesn't return? Watch this space.
Keep your immunizations up to date. High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year, and your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends the hepatitis B vaccination if you haven't previously received this vaccine and you're an adult age 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you are age 60 or older, have diabetes and haven't previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you.
Herbal medicine has been an integral part of TCM for more than 2,000 years. Many herbal formulations have been developed and are used in the treatment of diabetes. The Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic), which dates from the Han Dynasty 206 B.C.–220 A.D., listed 13 herbal formulations, 9 of which were patent medicines including pills, powders, plasters, and tinctures.12 The sources of Chinese remedies are varied and include plants, minerals, and animal parts.3

A spice that is popular for soothing your stomach and aiding digestion, Ginger also has the ability to normalize blood sugar levels. Multiple studies conducted on rats show that ginger extract can have a significant anti-hyperglycemic effect. It lowers serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and increases the HDL-cholesterol levels. Diabetes is a digestive disorder. Diabetics often face issues with acid reflux. Ginger soothes the entire digestive tract, giving diabetics another reason to add ginger to their supplement regimen.
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But a prescription doesn’t have to be a life sentence. It may be that, through weight loss and physical activity, you can reduce your risk of diabetes, or prevent it from occurring. "The only evidence-based treatment that can 'cure' diabetes is weight-loss surgery,” says Gupta, “but weight loss in overweight or obese type 2 diabetes patients certainly helps with decreasing drugs.”
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Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, can start when the body doesn't use insulin as it should. If your body can't keep up with the need for insulin, you may need to take pills. Along with meal planning and physical activity, diabetes pills help people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes keep their blood glucose levels on target. Several kinds of pills are available. Each works in a different way. Many people take two or three kinds of pills. Some people take combination pills. Combination pills contain two kinds of diabetes medicine in one tablet. Some people take pills and insulin.
“I am extremely pleased to see that technology developed in Tejal Desai’s group is getting to the point that we can explore this for therapeutic purposes,” Matthias Hebrok, PhD, the director of the Diabetes Center at UCSF and a member of Encellin’s scientific advisory board, noted on the UCSF website. “Encapsulation and protection of islet cells remain a critical hurdle that needs to be overcome before cell therapy becomes a reality in type 1 diabetes.”
Scientists are trying to figure out how to transplant islet cells and then protect them from the patient’s immune system so that long-term immunosuppressive medications aren’t required. Micro encapsulation is an approach scientists are testing to find out if a special coating to the transplanted islets can help the patient avoid rejection of those islets. These coatings let in nutrients to nourish the cells but prevent your body’s immune system from attacking them.
Cinnamon has the ability to lower blood sugar levels and improve your sensitivity to insulin. A study conducted at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif. found that the consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in plasma glucose levels, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cinnamon consumption also helped increase HDL cholesterol levels. (15)
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.
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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
Diabetes is classically divided into three types: upper, middle, and lower Xiao-ke. Each has characteristic symptoms. The upper type is characterized by excessive thirst, the middle by excessive hunger, and the lower by excessive urination. These types are closely associated with the lungs, stomach, and kidneys, respectively, and all three are associated with Yin deficiency. At some point during the course of their illness, most people with diabetes manifest symptoms of all three types.
Pancreatic islet transplantation is an experimental treatment for poorly controlled type 1 diabetes. Pancreatic islets are clusters of cells in the pancreas that make the hormone insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks these cells. A pancreatic islet transplant replaces destroyed islets with new ones that make and release insulin. This procedure takes islets from the pancreas of an organ donor and transfers them to a person with type 1 diabetes. Because researchers are still studying pancreatic islet transplantation, the procedure is only available to people enrolled in research studies. Learn more about islet transplantation studies.
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
The NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases and Kidney Diseases says it, “currently supports studies that are working toward obtaining FDA licensure to reclassify islet allo-transplantation as therapeutic. In other countries, such as Canada and Scandinavia, islet allo-transplantation is no longer considered experimental and is an accepted therapy in certain patients.” It adds that “Some patient advocates and islet researchers feel that islet allo-transplantation is close to having a therapeutic label.”
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.

Steve Vincent, 58, from Southampton, England, was diagnosed with type 2 in December 2010. He was told there was no known cure and he had an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness and limb loss. He had a BMI of 29, weighed 93kg and showed an HbA1c of 10.7%. In summer 2011 he read the reversal story and went on a daily 600 calories green vegetable diet and three litres of water, for two months. At the end he was and remains diabetes-free. In December 2012 he told me: "All my blood test levels are within the normal range, and my cholesterol and blood pressure levels are now normal." When he came off the diet he weighed just 72kg, although he has put on weight since then as he admits he has not been eating as healthily as he might, but his BMI remains at a healthy 24, and his HbA1c level is 5.5%.
A 2005 study on the anti-diabetic effect of garlic in normal and lab-induced diabetic rats, published in the journal Phytomedicine, found that oral administration significantly decreased serum glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, urea, uric acid, creatinine, AST and ALT levels. While it increased serum insulin in diabetic rats, this was not so in the case of normal rats. It concluded that garlic must be considered as an excellent candidate for future human studies on diabetes mellitus. What’s better, garlic also helps reduce high cholesterol levels, a complication that diabetics often face. This makes it an excellent spice to use for in all recipes!
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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1980 through 2010, the number of American adults aged 18 and older with diagnosed diabetes more than tripled—soaring from 5.5 million to 20.7 million. Moreover, the diabetes epidemic shows no signs of slowing down, affecting 25.8 million people in 2011. Another 79 million adults have prediabetes, putting them at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes down the road, according to the CDC.
In obese young people, decreased β-cell function has recently been shown to predict deterioration of glucose tolerance (4,78). Additionally, the rate of decline in glucose tolerance in first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic individuals is strongly related to the loss of β-cell function, whereas insulin sensitivity changes little (79). This observation mirrors those in populations with a high incidence of type 2 diabetes in which transition from hyperinsulinemic normal glucose tolerance to overt diabetes involves a large, rapid rise in glucose levels as a result of a relatively small further loss of acute β-cell competence (3). The Whitehall II study showed in a large population followed prospectively that people with diabetes exhibit a sudden rise in fasting glucose as β-cell function deteriorates (Fig. 5) (80). Hence, the ability of the pancreas to mount a normal, brisk insulin response to an increasing plasma glucose level is lost in the 2 years before the detection of diabetes, although fasting plasma glucose levels may have been at the upper limit of normal for several years. This was very different from the widely assumed linear rise in fasting plasma glucose level and gradual β-cell decompensation but is consistent with the time course of markers of increased liver fat before the onset of type 2 diabetes observed in other studies (81). Data from the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study demonstrated that plasma triacylglycerol and ALT levels were modestly elevated 2 years before the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and that there was a steady rise in the level of this liver enzyme in the run-up to the time of diagnosis (75).
Green tea contains the bioflavinoid epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to be a safe and effective antioxidant. In a study in Japan, green tea was shown to reduce the risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus onset. It has been shown to improve glucose tolerance in patients, and decrease blood sugar production and over-secretion in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients. Green tea has also been shown to have an effective anti-angiogenesis factor, that is, it reduces problematic overgrowth of blood vessels, which may have a significant effect on preventing diabetic retinopathy. It has also been shown to promote fat oxidation and thermogenesis. Last, green tea can provide antioxidant protection for the pancreas and the fatty liver. A good dose is 200 to 400 mg a day. It’s also beneficial to drink organic green tea.

But does Darkes' story really mean type 1 diabetes can be cured? Darkes declined to provide his medical records, and the experts Live Science spoke to said there were several missing or confusing pieces of information in his story. Usually, incredible medical stories like this one are reported as case reports in the medical literature, the experts said. And even if the details of his story can ultimately be confirmed, the experts emphasized that it's extremely unlikely that Darkes' case would lead to a widespread cure for type 1 diabetes, as reports in the media have wrongly suggested.


Garlic: Potent, but effective. Garlic is known as one of the oldest medicines in the world…and with good reason. An animal study that administered high doses of raw garlic to rats for 4 weeks found that it had a profound effect of reducing blood glucose levels, as well as cholesterol and triglycerides compared to rats who did not receive raw garlic (2). They also tested rats with boiled garlic, and saw no changes in blood glucose, so the benefit comes from raw garlic.


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Taking a fish oil supplement can help improve markers of diabetes by reducing triglyceride levels and raising HDL cholesterol levels. Research published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences shows that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are necessary for proper insulin function, preventing insulin intolerance and reducing inflammation. (16) To use fish oil as a natural remedy for diabetes, take 1,000 milligrams daily.

Another popular ingredient in the Indian spice rack, curry leaves help to stabilize blood glucose levels and impact carbohydrate metabolism. An Indian study published in International Journal of Development Research studied in detail the effects curry leaves have on diabetes type 2. According to the research data, curry leaves contain a phytochemical that can help control blood sugar level in patients with Diabetes type 2 by reducing fasting and postprandial blood sugar level. Diabetic rats given a dose of about 12gm /day for a month revealed that curry leaves may treat diabetes by influencing carbohydrate metabolism and improving liver and kidney function. Also, the amazing antioxidant properties of curry leaves can boost pancreatic cell production, thereby improving insulin function.
Lab studies show that Encellin’s “ultra thin-film implantable cell delivery system” keeps islet cells alive and functioning. In a 2015 study in the journal ACS Nano, Dr. Nyitray and others found that cells in the packaging survived for 90 days in lab animals. New blood vessels grew around the transplants and the cells produced insulin in response to rising glucose levels. In a 2016 study from Dr. Desai’s lab, also published in ACS Nano, human islet cells packaged in the tiny film envelopes survived for six months in mice—and the cells made and released insulin in response to rising blood glucose levels.
“The cell is the original smart machine,” notes Crystal Nyitray, PhD, on the website of Encellin, the biotech start-up she founded in 2016. “All drugs, devices, and even digital health approaches are trying to restore or copy these functions. At Encellin, we believe in the human cell and creating a safe and reliable solution for patients. We are creating a technology to promote cell function and protection.” 
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.
Although the promises are big, these technologies are still far from the market. First, clinical trials will have to show they do work. Then, the price could be steep, as cell therapy precedents for other applications, such as oncology, come with price tags that reach the six figures and are finding difficulties to get reimbursed. Considering that compared to cancer, diabetes is not an immediately life-threatening disease, health insurers in some countries might be reluctant to cover the treatment.
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