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
The blood glucose level is the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body's cells and is carried to them through the bloodstream. The hormone insulin allows the glucose to get into the cells. In type 1 diabetes, the body can no longer make insulin, so the glucose can't get into the body's cells. This makes the blood glucose level rise.
Peripheral neuropathy, one of the most common complications of type 2 diabetes, occurs most often in the distal extremities and typically affects the sensory, motor, and autonomic systems. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to exert a beneficial effect on neuropathic pain.2 The effects of acupuncture, particularly on pain, are mediated in part by the release of endogenous opioids from the spinal cord, brainstem, and hypothalamus. In addition, it has been demonstrated that neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and substance P, are released during acupuncture treatments. Increases in local blood flow and vasodilation and increased levels of cortisol have also been demonstrated.10 A 300% increase in plethysmographic recordings of blood flow has been demonstrated in the digits of limbs stimulated with electroacupuncture.10
There are numerous studies of botanical medicines and herbs for diabetes that speak to the effectiveness of natural and home remedies for diabetes. I have listed the most useful herbs with the most documented benefits. A patient does not need to take one hundred bottles a day of everything out on the market, but rather it is important to focus on a few botanicals backed by the most impressive studies and the best clinical evidence. The botanicals listed below are safe and effective.
First, the health of your gut is critical to your overall health. This is because your gut is home of trillions of microbes called the gut microbiome. These microbes work in symbiotic and antagonistic relationships within your body. A 2017 study using multiple therapies to manipulate the gut microbiome composition, found they could impact the individual’s health more rapidly. This study also found manipulating the gut microbiome as an effective way to avoid insulin resistance and therefore prevent diabetes.
“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.”
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.
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Your blood sugar level can rise for many reasons, including eating too much, being sick or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication. Check your blood sugar level often, and watch for signs and symptoms of high blood sugar — frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea. If you have hyperglycemia, you'll need to adjust your meal plan, medications or both.
This powerful herb promotes glucose utilization in the cells thus lowering blood glucose. It also prevents the liver from releasing more glucose into the blood stream, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Some people feel Gymnema Sylvestre is one of the most powerful herbs for treating high blood glucose – both type 1 and 2 diabetics. Also Gymnema Sylvestre may help rejuvenate beta cells in the pancreas thus helping heal the condition.
Anti-diabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Baskaran%20K%20et%20al.%20Antidiabetic%20effect%20of%20a%20leaf%20extract%20from%20gymnema%20sylvestre%20in%20non-insulin-dependent%20diabetes%20mellitus%20patients Possible regeneration of the islets of langerhans in streptozotocin-diabetic rats given gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0378874190901064 Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA1c, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2 - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2362.2006.01629.x/full Effectiveness of Cinnamon for Lowering Hemoglobin A1C in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Controlled Trial - http://www.jabfm.org/content/22/5/507.short Cloves protect the heart, liver and lens of diabetic rats - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814610003870 Cloves improve glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus - http://www.fasebj.org/content/20/5/A990.3.short Effects of rosemary on lipid profile in diabetic rats - http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380120780_Aljamal%20et%20al.pdf Inhibition of Advanced Glycation End-Product Formation by Origanum majorana L. In Vitro and in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3447365/ Evaluation of clonal herbs of Lamiaceae species for management of diabetes and hypertension - http://apjcn.org/update%5Cpdf%5C2006%5C1%5C107%5C107.pdf Metformin-like effect of Salvia officinalis (common sage): is it useful in diabetes prevention? - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16923227 Antidiabetic effect of garlic (Allium sativum L.) in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711305002175 Antiglycation Properties of Aged Garlic Extract: Possible Role in Prevention of Diabetic Complications - http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/3/796S.full#fn-1 Effect of ethanolic extract of Zingiber officinale on dyslipidaemia in diabetic rats - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874104005732 Effect of Ginger Extract Consumption on levels of blood Glucose, Lipid Profile and Kidney Functions in Alloxan Induced-Diabetic Rats - http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/35273868/17.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1484639718&Signature=Zb4rY42u7WJrbngfV6pCQzu61e0%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DEffect_of_Ginger_Extract_Consumption_on.pdf Efficacy of turmeric on blood sugar and polyol pathway in diabetic albino rats - http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1013106527829 Hypolipidemic action of curcumin, the active principle of turmeric (Curcuma longa) in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats - http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1006819605211 A REVIEW ON ROLE OF MURRAYA KOENIGII (CURRY LEAF) IN (DIABETES MELLITUS – TYPE II) PRAMEHA - http://www.journalijdr.com/sites/default/files/4740.pdf Capsaicin and glucose absorption and utilization in healthy human subjects - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16612838 Inhibition of Advanced Glycation End-Product Formation by Origanum majorana L. In Vitro and in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23008741 Use of Fenuqreek seed powder in the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0271531796001418 Ginseng and Diabetes: The Evidences from In Vitro, Animal and Human Studies - http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.797.4558&rep=rep1&type=pdf
In-person diabetes prevention programs: The CDC offers a one year long lifestyle change program through its National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) at various locations throughout the US to help participants adopt healthy habits and prevent or delay progression to type 2 diabetes. This program is a major undertaking by the CDC to translate the findings from the DPP study into a real world setting, a significant effort indeed!
Acupuncture is a procedure where a practitioner inserts very thin needles into specific points on your skin. Some scientists say that acupuncture triggers the release of the body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture has been shown to offer relief from chronic pain and is sometimes used by people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage that can happen with diabetes.
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.
Healthy fats: Medium-chained fatty acids found in coconut and red palm oil can help balance blood sugar levels, and they serve as the preferred fuel source for your body rather than sugar. Using coconut milk, ghee and grass-fed butter can also help balance out your blood sugar levels, so include these foods into your meals and smoothies. Some research actually suggests that a high-fat, low carb diet known as the keto diet may be a novel approach to reverse diabetes naturally, although you don’t technically have to go into ketosis to achieve the benefits of healthy fats in treating diabetes. (12)
A couple of studies have found that cinnamon improves blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. In the first study, 60 people with type 2 diabetes were divided into six groups. Three groups took 1, 3 or 6 g of cinnamon a day and the remaining three groups consumed 1, 3 or 6 g of placebo capsules. After 40 days, all three doses of cinnamon significantly reduced fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
If the patient were to gain weight back or scale back on their physical activity program, high blood glucose would return. If they were to overeat at a meal, their blood glucose probably would continue to go higher than someone without diabetes. Also, the decreased insulin production and/or increased insulin resistance that led to the initial diabetes diagnosis will gradually intensify over the years and during periods of stress. In time, the patient who could maintain normal blood glucose with diet and exercise alone may discover that he or she needs to add oral diabetes medications — or perhaps even insulin injections — to keep blood glucose in a healthy range.
Tui Na is a traditional form of Chinese massage that uses hand manipulations, such as pulling, kneading, pushing, and grasping to stimulate acupuncture points and other parts of the body to create balance and harmony in the system. It can be used effectively in lieu of acupuncture in patients who have an aversion to needles, particularly pediatric patients.13
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.
How long will diabetes stay away after weight loss? Long-term normal blood glucose control in previously diabetic individuals after bariatric surgery demonstrates that diabetes does not recur for up to 10 years, unless substantial weight gain occurs (86). These observations are consistent with the twin cycle hypothesis and the existence of a trigger level for adverse metabolic effects of fat in the pancreas. Hence, for a given individual with type 2 diabetes, reducing the liver and pancreas fat content below his or her personal trigger levels would be expected to result in a release from the fatty acid–mediated dysfunction. Individual tolerance of different degrees of fat exposure vary, and understanding this liposusceptibility will underpin the future understanding of genetically determined risk in any given environment. However, this should not obscure the central point: If a person has type 2 diabetes, there is more fat in the liver and pancreas than he or she can cope with.
One of the most advanced alternatives comes from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) in the US, which is developing a bioengineered mini-organ where insulin-producing cells are encapsulated within a protective barrier. Two years ago, the DRI announced that the first patient treated in an ongoing Phase I/II trial no longer requires insulin therapy.