Diabetes is a costly disease, placing a high financial burden on the patient and the healthcare system. If poorly managed or left untreated, it can cause blindness, loss of kidney function, and conditions that require the amputation of digits or limbs. The CDC reports that it’s also a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
In the picture to the right you can see the lunch that I was unbelievably served at the 11th International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm 2010. This is a major international conference for obesity doctors and scientists. The food contains almost exclusively energy from sugar and starches, things that are broken down to simple sugars in the stomach.
The most commonly prescribed oral medication for type 2 diabetes is metformin. “Usually it’s the first line of treatment for all people with type 2 diabetes if their kidney function is normal,” Dr. Gupta says. In fact, a survey published in November 2015 in the journal JAMA found that metformin was one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States.
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.
There are major barriers for widespread use of islet also-transplantation that can help people with type 1 diabetes. The shortage of islets from donors is a huge obstacle. The other obstacle is that this is still considered an experimental procedure and until the procedure is considered successful enough to be labeled therapeutic by the FDA instead of experimental, the costs of these transplants come from limited research funds.
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%.
It’s a clinical trial that is being held at mass general. I am surprised by the rather negative comments on here. I am happily going to the Faustma Lab in a few weeks to meet with Denise and see what the study is about. You should contact Mass General and find out more. I am a Boston area native but flying 1500miles to learn about the study. Typically insurance companies don’t conduct or have much to do with clinical trials. They can’t make money off us if we are cured or using less insulin! Oh insurance companies are such pains… Read more »
Dr. Fung says he decided to experiment with intermittent fasting because he was frustrated seeing so many diabetic patients with kidney failure. “It occurred to me that fasting was an underutilized therapeutic option for losing weight,” he recalls. “I started doing this five years ago, and a lot of people got incredibly good results – it reversed their diabetes.”
It’s not just easy, but also tasty to add spices and herbs that lower blood sugar to your diet. Most of these can be used in everyday recipes. If you are looking for inspiration on how to start cooking with these, try out these recipes from our recipe section – Mushroom-stuffed Turkey, Stuffed Peppers, Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza, Courgette Carrot & Tomato Frittata, Moussaka, Vegetable Stir Fry, and Roasted Butternut Squash
Taking 200 micrograms of chromium picolinate three times daily with meals can help improve insulin sensitivity. A review published in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics evaluated 13 studies that reported significant improvement in glycemic control and substantial reductions in hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia after patients used chromium picolinate supplementation. Other positive outcomes from supplementing with chromium picolinate included reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduced requirements for hypoglycemic medication. (14)
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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A newer class of diabetes medication, SGLT2 includes three medicines: canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and empagliflozin. These drugs remove extra sugar from your body by blocking it from the kidneys. It also causes your body to be more sensitive to insulin. The most common side effects caused by SGLT2 are vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections.

In diabetes, either the pancreas makes insufficient levels of insulin so cells absorb glucose poorly or cells themselves become insulin resistant and thus unable to absorb glucose despite adequate insulin levels. Both types of change increase blood sugar levels above normal. Parsed this way, type I and type II diabetes overlap some but also differ.
Some people who have type 2 diabetes can achieve their target blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone, but many also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy. The decision about which medications are best depends on many factors, including your blood sugar level and any other health problems you have. Your doctor might even combine drugs from different classes to help you control your blood sugar in several different ways.
"We plan to account for differences from mouse to human by helping dogs first. This way, the dogs can inform us on how well the treatment might work in humans," said Clarissa Hernandez Stephens, first author on the research and a graduate researcher in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Findings appear in early view for a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors help control blood sugar levels by preventing the digestion of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include starchy foods like potatoes and corn. They also include most grains (bread, rice, crackers, cereal) and sugary sweets. The two medicines in this group are acarbose and miglitol. These medicines may cause bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and flatulence (gas).
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 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

If you are someone who has struggled with the roller coaster of blood sugar management, I have some good news! Research shows that there are common herbs and spices, likely ones that you already have in your kitchen, that have some potential positive effects on improving blood sugar. Today, I’m breaking down some of the superstar herbs and spices that data has indicated may help with blood sugar management.
Practitioners agree that nutrition is the cornerstone of diabetes management, and that a range of nutrition intervention strategies can be used to meet the metabolic goals and individual preferences of the person with diabetes. However, there are significant differences in the approach and methodologies used by alternative and conventional practitioners to manage the disease. One difference is in terminology. When is remission really remission?

Panax ginseng (Korean ginseng), which has a long history of use as a hypoglycemic agent. At least five constituents of this herb have been shown to exert hypoglycemic effects. In one study, treatment with ginseng lowered blood glucose levels and improved mood and psychological performance as compared with placebo. Recommended dosage is 100–200 mg/day.14
First, speak with your doctor — you should not start relying on plants or stop your medicines on your own. You’ll need to work closely with your diabetes health-care provider, and you’ll need to do some research and monitor yourself. Still, millions of people are using plant medicines, and a number of them have written to Diabetes Self-Management to tell us that they’re working.
“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.
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