Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself and destroys beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells normally produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body turn sugar from food sources into energy for cells throughout the body. But when the immune attack destroys the beta cells, insulin is no longer produced and the sugar stays in the blood where it can cause serious damage to body organs. Because of this, people with type 1 diabetes have to regularly inject insulin in order to stay alive.
An insulin pump is a small machine that gives you small, steady doses of insulin throughout the day. You wear one type of pump outside your body on a belt or in a pocket or pouch. The insulin pump connects to a small plastic tube and a very small needle. You insert the needle under your skin and it stays in place for several days. Insulin then pumps from the machine through the tube into your body 24 hours a day. You also can give yourself doses of insulin through the pump at mealtimes. Another type of pump has no tubes and attaches directly to your skin, such as a self-adhesive pod.
The chart above gives averages. Follow your doctor’s advice on when and how to take your insulin. Your doctor might also recommend premixed insulin, which is a mix of two types of insulin. Some types of insulin cost more than others, so talk with your doctor about your options if you're concerned about cost. Read about financial help for diabetes care.
The reason the body stops producing insulin is that it kills off the pancreas’ beta cells, which produce insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must get their insulin from injections or ingestion, a cumbersome and often imprecise task. Too little insulin and blood sugar levels stay high for extended periods, potentially damaging the body; too much and blood sugar levels crash, possibly causing a person with diabetes to faint or experience an even worse problems, such as a stroke.
A randomized, sham-controlled, crossover study of 50 adults with type 2 diabetes evaluated the effectiveness of Percutaneous Nerve Stimulation (PENS) therapy in the treatment of neuropathic pain. PENS is a modern adaptation of acupuncture that uses percutaneously placed acupuncture needles to stimulate peripheral sensory and motor nerves innervating the region of neuropathic pain. The results showed that active PENS treatment improved neuropathic pain symptoms in all patients. In addition to reducing pain, the treatment improved physical activity levels, sense of well-being, and quality of sleep and reduced oral non-opioid analgesic medication requirements.2

After two months under the care of the naturopath, John returned to his primary care doctor to discover that his hemoglobin A1c had dropped from 8.9% to 4.9%—a nondiabetic range. For eight months and counting, he’s been off all his diabetes medication. His last A1c reading was 5.1%. With the help of his naturopath, John seems to have reversed his diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and unlike type 1 diabetes, it usually occurs in people over the age of 40, especially those who are overweight. Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, which means that the hormone insulin is being released, but a person doesn’t respond to it appropriately. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that’s caused by high blood sugar. The body can keep up for a period of time by producing more insulin, but over time the insulin receptor sites burn out. Eventually, diabetes can affect nearly every system in the body, impacting your energy, digestion, weight, sleep, vision and more. (5)


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.
Complete with success stories featuring people who followed the plan and not only lost weight (up to 50 pounds) but were also no longer diagnosed as diabetic, the Diabetes Cure teaches readers what's really causing their diabetes, shows them how to banish cravings once and for all, and provides the tools to help them take back control of their lives.
Pancreatic islet allo-transplantation is a procedure in which islets from the pancreas of a deceased oran donor are purified, processed, and transferred into another person. Immunosuppressive medications are needed to prevent rejection which is a typical challenge with any transplant. These medications carry a number of serious side effects such as decreased kidney function, high blood pressure, anemia and lowered white blood cells counts.
Even as things stand now, there are a lot of people left out in the cold. A 2016 study, for instance, found that only 41,000 people with diabetes annually get bariatric surgery in the US—fewer than 5 percent of the total new cases diagnosed every year. And the longer someone has diabetes, studies have suggested, the less likely they are to go into remission if they eventually get surgery. Getting those numbers up will not only require changing the minds of insurers, but public opinion, too.
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Known as gurmar, or “sugar destroyer,” in Aryuvedic medicine, Gymnema has consistently shown benefits in patients with diabetes. The most active part of Gymnema seems to be gymnemic acids, and many products list the percentage each capsule contains. Analyses of the herb for diabetes have shown it may be helpful in lowering high blood sugar levels. It can delay glucose absorption from the intestine. It was shown to regenerate pancreatic tissues, allowing more insulin to be produced, and help regulate insulin secretion. It also increases the utilization of glucose by the cell, reducing insulin resistance and decreasing appetite, especially for sweets. I usually use it in capsules, or in liquid form in some patients. Due to Gymnema having a very similar shape to glucose, it can fit into the taste bud receptors for sugar; it thus has unbelievable power to actually prevent the taste of sweets in the mouth for up to 1.5 hours. When I have a patient who is still struggling to not eat cake and cookies and so forth at parties or celebrations (or just in general), I will give her a tincture of Gymnema sylvestre. This is one of my favorite herbs for diabetes. In capsule form doses of 400 to 2,400 mg a day are recommended.
Glucose in the bloodstream passes through the kidneys, where it can either be excreted or reabsorbed.   Sodium-glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2) works in the kidney to reabsorb glucose, and a new class of medication, SGLT2 inhibitors, block this action, causing excess glucose to be eliminated in the urine. Canagliflozin (Invokana), dapagliflozin (Farxiga), and empagliflozin (Jardiance) are SGLT2 inhibitors that have been approved by the FDA to treat type 2 diabetes.  Because they increase glucose levels in the urine, side effects can include urinary tract and yeast infections.
Clearly separate from the characteristic lack of acute insulin secretion in response to increase in glucose supply is the matter of total mass of β-cells. The former determines the immediate metabolic response to eating, whereas the latter places a long-term limitation on total possible insulin response. Histological studies of the pancreas in type 2 diabetes consistently show an ∼50% reduction in number of β-cells compared with normal subjects (66). β-Cell loss appears to increase as duration of diabetes increases (67). The process is likely to be regulated by apoptosis, a mechanism known to be increased by chronic exposure to increased fatty acid metabolites (68). Ceramides, which are synthesized directly from fatty acids, are likely mediators of the lipid effects on apoptosis (10,69). In light of new knowledge about β-cell apoptosis and rates of turnover during adult life, it is conceivable that removal of adverse factors could result in restoration of normal β-cell number, even late in the disease (66,70). Plasticity of lineage and transdifferentiation of human adult β-cells could also be relevant, and the evidence for this has recently been reviewed (71). β-Cell number following reversal of type 2 diabetes remains to be examined, but overall, it is clear that at least a critical mass of β-cells is not permanently damaged but merely metabolically inhibited.
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
Metformin: The DPP study found that metformin, the safest first-line therapy for type 2 diabetes, may help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes. Participants who took the low-cost generic drug had a 31% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to the control group (those not on metformin or intensive lifestyle intervention). Again, 15-year follow up data showed that 17% of those on metformin continued to have a significant reduction in type 2 progression. At this time, metformin (or any other medication, for that matter) is not currently FDA approved for prediabetes, and it is sometimes prescribed “off-label” by a healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can give you more information and determine whether metformin is a good option for you.
Professor Andrew Hattersley, a Consultant in Diabetes at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and Research Professor at the University of Exeter Medical School, looked forward. "Now we know there is a "seven year switch," the next question is why? Has the immune attack stopped or are we left with "super beta-cells" that can resist the immune onslaught. Any insights into halting the relentless destruction of the precious insulin-producing cells are valuable. We could not have made this progress without the help of over 1,500 patients. We owe it to them to try to find answers that might help patient care quickly."
Some of the above drugs are available in compound form, and there are many patients taking three to four of them to control their blood sugar. But again, "the most common duo is metformin and a sulfonylurea,” says Arti Bhan, MD, division head of endocrinology at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “Metformin makes the body utilize insulin more effectively, and the sulfonylurea works on the pancreas to make more insulin in response to food consumption. Another common combination is metformin and insulin.”
These seeds, used in Indian cooking, have been found to lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce high cholesterol, according to several animal and human studies. The effect may be partly due to the seeds’ high fiber content. The seeds also contain an amino acid that appears to boost the release of insulin. In one of the largest studies on fenugreek, 60 people who took 25 grams daily showed significant improvements in blood sugar control and post-meal spikes.

Eight categories of diabetes medicine are available in pill form: metformin (a biguanide), sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, meglitinides, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, sodium-glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2), dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, and bile acid sequestrants. Each medicine has good points and bad points. Your doctor will decide which medicine is right for you.
According to TCM, Xiao-ke is attributed to three main factors: improper diet (consuming large quantities of sweets, fatty or greasy foods, alcohol, and hot drinks such as hot coffee or tea), emotional disturbances (stress, anxiety, depression,) and a constitutional Yin deficiency (fatigue, weakness, lethargy, pale complexion).7 To the Western ear, TCM diagnoses sound esoteric, even poetic. In the case of a person with diabetes presenting with symptoms of excessive thirst, the diagnosis can be described as kidney Yin deficiency along with lung Yin deficiency and “internal heat that consumes fluids, thus bringing on wasting and thirsting.”7
Currently, no fully artificial pancreas system has been approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. The most advanced product on the market in the USA is currently Medtronic’s MiniMed system which can automatically suspend insulin delivery when it detects low blood sugars. The next generation of their system will anticipate low blood sugars and stop insulin delivery in advance.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there is still not enough good evidence to support the use of herbal supplements as effective type 2 diabetes treatments. While many of these supplements show promise, until results from additional studies come out, do not take herbal supplements to treat type 2 diabetes without first consulting with your doctor. Herbal supplements have side effects and can interfere with other medications.

Type 1 diabetes is commonly called “juvenile diabetes” because it tends to develop at a younger age, typically before a person turns 20 years old. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The damage to the pancreatic cells leads to a reduced ability or complete inability to create insulin. Some of the common causes that trigger this autoimmune response may include a virus, genetically modified organisms, heavy metals, vaccines, or foods like wheat, cow’s milk and soy. (4)
“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.” 

In a study that looked at the anti-hyperglycemic and lipid-lowering properties of Emblica officinalis Gaertn. (Amla) fruit in normal and diabetic human volunteers, the results showed a significant decrease in fasting and 2-h post-prandial blood glucose levels on the 21st day in both normal and diabetic subjects receiving 1, 2 or 3 grams of Amla powder per day as compared with their baseline values.

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.
If I could only prescribe one supplement for a diabetes patient, I would prescribe R-alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid has numerous benefits to the diabetic patient. It is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant and has been shown to protect patients with fatty liver from liver disease progression. It can help reduce insulin resistance and has been shown to protect people with diabetes from developing complications in their nerves, eyes, and kidneys. R-ALA can prevent glycosylation of proteins, which reduces the A1C level. It is safe, although very rarely it can cause stomach upset. Alpha-lipoic acid is listed either as ALA or R-ALA. When listed as ALA, this means it contains two forms—the S isomer form and the R isomer form, in a 50:50 ratio. The key is to find a product that says it contains “R-ALA” instead of just “ALA.” A good daily working dose of R-ALA is 300 to 1,200 mg a day, which is the equivalent of 600 to 2,400 mg a day of regular ALA, if you buy a regular ALA listed product.

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.
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