Because the drugs listed above act in different ways to lower blood glucose levels, they may be used together. For example, a biguanide and a sulfonylurea may be used together. Many combinations can be used. Though taking more than one drug can be more costly and can increase the risk of side effects, combining oral medications can improve blood glucose control when taking only a single pill does not have the desired effects. Switching from one single pill to another is not as effective as adding another type of diabetes medicine.
However, the observation that normalization of glucose in type 2 diabetes occurred within days after bariatric surgery, before substantial weight loss (15), led to the widespread belief that surgery itself brought about specific changes mediated through incretin hormone secretion (16,17). This reasoning overlooked the major change that follows bariatric surgery: an acute, profound decrease in calorie intake. Typically, those undergoing bariatric surgery have a mean body weight of ∼150 kg (15) and would therefore require a daily calorie intake of ∼13.4 MJ/day (3,200 kcal/day) for weight maintenance (18). This intake decreases precipitously at the time of surgery. The sudden reversal of traffic into fat stores brings about a profound change in intracellular concentration of fat metabolites. It is known that under hypocaloric conditions, fat is mobilized first from the liver and other ectopic sites rather than from visceral or subcutaneous fat stores (19). This process has been studied in detail during more moderate calorie restriction in type 2 diabetes over 8 weeks (20). Fasting plasma glucose was shown to be improved because of an 81% decrease in liver fat content and normalization of hepatic insulin sensitivity with no change in the insulin resistance of muscle.
When evaluating patients with a chronic illness such as diabetes, TCM practitioners take a detailed, multi-system case history and supplement this information with observations that give information about the state of the patient’s health. These observations include the shape, color, and coating of the tongue; the color and expression of the face; the odor of the breath and body; and the strength, rhythm, and quality of the pulse. Many practitioners will palpate along meridians to detect points of tenderness that may indicate a blockage in the flow of Qi at that point.6
About Diabetes, Type 2: Type 2 diabetes is characterized by "insulin resistance" as body cells do not respond appropriately when insulin is present. This is a more complex problem than type 1, but is sometimes easier to treat, since insulin is still produced, especially in the initial years. Type 2 may go unnoticed for years in a patient before diagnosis, since the symptoms are typically milder (no ketoacidosis) and can be sporadic. However, severe complications can result from unnoticed type 2 diabetes, including renal failure, and coronary artery disease. Type 2 diabetes was formerly known by a variety of partially misleading names, including "adult-onset diabetes", "obesity-related diabetes", "insulin-resistant diabetes", or "non-insulin-dependent diabetes" (NIDDM). It may be caused by a number of diseases, such as hemochromatosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, and can also be caused by certain types of medications (e.g. long-term steroid use). About 90-95% of all North American cases of diabetes are type 2, and about 20% of the population over the age of 65 is a type 2 diabetic. The fraction of type 2 diabetics in other parts of the world varies substantially, almost certainly for environmental and lifestyle reasons. There is also a strong inheritable genetic connection in type 2 diabetes: having relatives (especially first degree) with type 2 is a considerable risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. The majority of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus are obese - chronic obesity leads to increased insulin resistance that can develop into diabetes, most likely because adipose tissue is a (recently identified) source of chemical signals (hormones and cytokines).
There was a clinical trial conducted at Department of Biochemistry, Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences Madras, India that studied 22 patients with type 2 diabetes. It reported that supplementing the body with 400 mg of Gymnema Sylvestre extract daily resulted in remarkable reductions in blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c and glycosylated plasma protein levels. What’s even more remarkable is that by the end of this 18 month study, participants were able to reduce the dosage of their prescription diabetes medication. Five were even completely off medication and attaining stable blood sugar levels with Gymnema Sylvestre supplementation alone.
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The Chinese language includes two terms for diabetes. The traditional name, Xiao-ke, correlates closely with diabetes in most instances. Xiao-ke syndrome means “wasting and thirsting.” The more modern term, Tang-niao-bing, means “sugar urine illness.” Reference to diabetes by the traditional term appears in the earliest texts, including the first medical text in Chinese history, Huang Di Nei Jing, or The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic.
“The field has suffered from a checkered history 20, 30 years ago, when there were operations that were dangerous. But modern metabolic surgery is very safe,” Cummings said. “The risk of dying from a laparoscopic gastric bypass is a little bit less than the risk of dying from having your gallbladder or appendix removed. But we never consider those risky surgeries; they’re totally bread-and-butter procedures.”
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.
Trick (most important): Go for longer periods of time without eating (yes, yes, fasting). Consume water only for days or weeks at a time. Your fat will literally dissolve away, and with it your type 2 diabetes and other ailments. The definitive book here is Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor’s Program for Conquering Disease. I highly recommend it; if you’re skeptical, read the 200+ testimonial comments on Amazon. I and at least 20 of my friends have tried fasts lasting days to weeks. It works, and it is amazing.