Want to learn more about diabetes drugs? Read the “Diabetes Medicines” series from certified diabetes educator Amy Campbell, covering metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, thiazolidinediones, DPP-4 inhibitors, SGLT2 inhibitors, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, bile acid sequestrants and dopamine receptor agonists, and non-insulin injectable diabetes medications.
Joseph, you should talk with your doctor or diabetes educator about this. In general, you can take metformin with most herbs, but your case might be different, and you might not need to. You might have to experiment. The same with insulin, although you have to be more careful there — in all cases you should work with your doctor or diabetes educator.
Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by the spice turmeric, among other plants. Curcumin seems to have multiple benefits for diabetes symptoms. It has been shown to be a marked inhibitor of reactive oxygen species that promote oxidation damage in cells. Curcumin lowers inflammatory chemicals like tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and that’s good because TNF-a causes insulin resistance and irritates fatty livers. Curcumin can reduce another pro-inflammatory chemical called NF-KB. The above-mentioned actions provide a benefit in diabetes protection and reduce the risk of developing diabetes symptoms and complications. Curcumin has also been shown to enhance pancreatic beta cell functioning and reduce fatty liver deposition. It reduces high blood sugar, A1C, and insulin resistance. It was also shown to reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and that is a higher risk in diabetic patients than in nondiabetic patients. A good dose is 200 to 3,000 mg a day.
Change in fasting plasma glucose (A), 2 h post-oral glucose tolerance test (B), and homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-B) insulin secretion (C) during the 16-year follow-up in the Whitehall II study. Of the 6,538 people studied, diabetes developed in 505. Time 0 was taken as the diagnosis of diabetes or as the end of follow-up for those remaining normoglycemic. Redrawn with permission from Tabák et al. (80).
Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.
In adults, a rare side effect of taking diabetes pills is lactic acidosis, a very serious condition caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the blood. Lactic acidosis can cause symptoms like rapid breathing, muscle pain, cool and clammy skin, sweet-smelling breath, nausea, and vomiting. This problem has mostly happened in elderly people who have other medical problems in addition to their diabetes.
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.
A recent study of 46 patients with painful peripheral neuropathy evaluated acupuncture analgesia to determine its short- and long-term efficacy. Using TCM acupuncture points, 34 patients (77%) experienced significant improvement in their symptoms. After a follow-up period of 18–52 weeks, 67% were able to stop or significantly reduce their pain medications. Only 8 (24%) required additional acupuncture treatment; 7 (21%) stated that their symptoms had cleared completely.11
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbs, minerals, animal products, and patent formulas that come into the United States from China. Herbal products are considered dietary supplements according to the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994; therefore, the manufacturers do not need FDA approval or evaluation for safety, purity, and efficacy before bringing their products to market. There have been reports of some formulas imported from China containing heavy metals such as lead and mercury and of others being deliberately adulterated with conventional Western pharmaceuticals, such as corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory agents, and benzodiazepines.16
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.”
Treating and managing diabetes can seem overwhelming at times. But the diabetes health care team is there for you. Your child's diabetes management plan should be easy to understand, detailed, and written down for easy reference. You also should have the names and phone numbers of the health care team members in case of emergencies or if you have questions.
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Qi (pronounced “chi”) is translated into English as vital energy. It is defined in terms of function rather than as a discrete substance, and it is what animates us and allows us to move and maintain the activities of life. The origins of Qi include “congenital”’ (prenatal) Qi—that which is inherited from our parents—and “acquired” Qi—that which is incorporated from food and air.4
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
Fasting plasma glucose concentration depends entirely on the fasting rate of hepatic glucose production and, hence, on its sensitivity to suppression by insulin. Hepatic insulin sensitivity cannot be inferred from observed postprandial change in hepatic glycogen concentration because glucose transport into the hepatocyte is not rate limiting, unlike in muscle, and hyperglycemia itself drives the process of glycogen synthesis irrespective of insulin action. Indeed, postprandial glycogen storage in liver has been shown to be moderately impaired in type 2 diabetes (50) compared with the marked impairment in skeletal muscle (51).
Greek clover is an annual herb with aromatic seeds having medicinal properties. It is also known as fenugreek, and is largely used in curry. Greek clover has properties to lower down the levels of glucose in the body, which, in turn, controls diabetes. Also, when given in changeable doses of 25 gm to 100 gm on a daily basis, it was found to diminish reactive hyperglycemia in diabetic patients. Furthermore, levels of glucose, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides were also appreciably reduced. Alternatively, one can just stir two teaspoons of Greek clover seeds in powder form in warm milk and consume on a regular basis; it will control the levels of blood sugar and keep diabetes at bay. In case one does not want to have the powder in milk, seeds can be eaten wholly, too.
Although the relationship between magnesiumand diabetes has been studied for decades, we still don't fully understand it. Low magnesium may worsen blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. Scientists say that it interrupts insulin secretion in the pancreas and builds insulin resistance in the body's tissues. And evidence suggests that a magnesium deficiency may contribute to some diabetes complications. People who get more magnesium in their diet (by eating whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables) have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
There is a risk that those who attempt it and fail could end up worse off, speculates Annie Hoang, a registered dietitian at Sunnybrook. An individual’s metabolism might switch into “starvation mode,” reducing the amount of energy needed at rest, she explains. That means some patients could regain all the weight they lost – and more – if they stop doing intermittent fasting.
The accepted view has been that the β-cell dysfunction of established diabetes progresses inexorably (79,82,83), whereas insulin resistance can be modified at least to some extent. However, it is now clear that the β-cell defect, not solely hepatic insulin resistance, may be reversible by weight loss at least early in the course of type 2 diabetes (21,84). The low insulin sensitivity of muscle tissue does not change materially either during the onset of diabetes or during subsequent reversal. Overall, the information on the inhibitory effects of excess fat on β-cell function and apoptosis permits a new understanding of the etiology and time course of type 2 diabetes.
Some studies suggest that low magnesium levels may worsen blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes. There is also some evidence that magnesium supplementation may help with insulin resistance. For example, a study examined the effect of magnesium or placebo in 63 people with type 2 diabetes and low magnesium levels who were taking the medication glibenclamide. After 16 weeks, people who took magnesium had improved insulin sensitivity and lower fasting glucose levels.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a system of healing that is thousands of years old. It has long been utilized in the Chinese culture to treat the complex of symptoms that Western medicine terms diabetes mellitus. This article will outline the key concepts and therapies of TCM that play a role in the evaluation and treatment of diabetic patients.
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.
Efforts to cure or stop type 1 diabetes are still in the early stages, and these approaches will also not be suitable for people that have already lost their insulin-producing cells. A solution could be the creation of an “artificial pancreas” — a fully automated system that can measure glucose levels and inject the right amount of insulin into the bloodstream, just like a healthy pancreas would.