But is John “free of diabetes”? This is where the lines become blurred. Medically speaking, the term “cure” is usually associated with acute disease—a temporary medical condition, such as bacterial pneumonia, that can be cured with antibiotics. For diabetes, which is a chronic disease, it may be more accurate to use the term “remission” rather than cure. Particularly when considering the pathology associated with diabetes and the individual’s genetic predisposition, relapse is always possible. In a consensus statement issued by the ADA, the term remission is defined based on the following definitions:2
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.
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you'll have with sugar attached. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes. Normal levels are below 5.7 percent.
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.
Initial clinical trial results, published in a 2012 PLOS One paper, reported that two doses of BCG spaced four weeks apart led to reductions in autoreactive T cells, an increase in Tregs and what turned out to be a transient increase in insulin production. But by the end of that short, 20-week trial, there was no reduction in HbA1c, the established measure of blood sugar levels over time. An extension and expansion of that trial with long term follow-up, the current results are based on data from 282 human study participants – 52 with type 1 diabetes who participated in the BCG clinical trials and 230 who contributed blood samples for mechanistic studies.
The NIDDK has played an important role in developing “artificial pancreas” technology. An artificial pancreas replaces manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots or a pump. A single system monitors blood glucose levels around the clock and provides insulin or a combination of insulin and a second hormone, glucagon, automatically. The system can also be monitored remotely, for example by parents or medical staff.
Another factor to consider when determining when to take your diabetes medicines is how well you can follow the regimen your doctor recommends. For any drugs to be effective, you have to take them. Ideally, your medication schedule should be incorporated into your daily routine; only having to remember to take your diabetes pills once a day may make things easier for you. Not much evidence is available that taking saxagliptin and glipizide at different times will provide a better blood-glucose-lowering effect. The most important thing is to take them regularly and without missing any doses. In addition to taking the diabetes medicines you’ve been prescribed, other ways to help improve your blood glucose levels are to engage in healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular physical activity and a healthy diet.
Henry Cole, 67, from New Jersey, USA, did likewise. He saw a 20-second news clip on TV and took up the diet days later. He stuck rigidly to 600 calories daily from just protein (steak, chicken, turkey or fish) plus green veg, eating his one meal at 6pm most days, with coffee and calorie-counted cream for breakfast and 1.5 litres of water. His weight went down from 81kg to a stable 70kg on a now daily 1,500 cal diet, with his HbA1c level down to 5.6% from 6.9%.
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!
Anti-diabetic medications are used to control type 2 diabetes mellitus. In this case, body cells are resistant to insulin (injections), therefore medications are given orally to lower the blood glucose levels. In most of the cases, oral hypoglycemic agents are highly effective. One just needs to ascertain which suits him/her the best. There are several classes of anti-diabetic drugs. Largely, their selection depends on the nature of the diabetes, age and situation of the person, as well as other factors.
This medical-grade polyester is currently used in teeth guards that kids and adults wear at night, in tiny tubes used to guide the growth of damaged nerve fibers and in surgical sutures. Researchers are also looking at PCL’s potential as an implant to deliver medications directly to the eyes and to tumors and as a scaffold for growing human tissue. PCL may be an ideal package for islet cells, the studies note, because it can be used to create thin, flexible membranes with pores that let in glucose and nutrients, let out insulin and exclude bigger immune-system molecules.
Don’t let anyone discourage you! Your doctor may be skeptical and resist your efforts to cure yourself, but persevere! Worst case, put your doctor in touch with Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist who grew tired of simply controlling pain for his end stage kidney patients at the end of lives ravaged by diabetes, and decided to do something to help them thrive with the energy of a healthy life well-lived. Now follow the simple rules plainly and freely explained above and help yourself!