Western or conventional therapies for diabetes have been geared toward regulating blood glucose with a combination of diet modification, insulin and/or oral pharmacological agents, weight loss when appropriate, and exercise. Although Western medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) share the diabetes treatment goals of reducing symptoms and preventing complications, their approaches to conceptualizing, diagnosing, and treating the disease are very different. This article will outline the key concepts and therapies of TCM that play a role in the evaluation and treatment of diabetic patients.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), survival rests solely on how well the patient can follow their prescribed plan. Most patients who do not develop any complications within 10-20 years can live long healthy lives. Factors like motivation, awareness, intelligence level and the patient’s education usually determine the survival rate of Type 1 Diabetes.
This plant’s Hindi name translates as “sugar destroyer,” and the plant is said to reduce the ability to detect sweetness. It’s regarded as one of the most powerful herbs for blood-sugar control. It may work by boosting the activity of enzymes that help cells use glucose or by stimulating the production of insulin. Though it hasn’t been studied ­extensively, it’s not known to cause serious side effects. Try these healthy habits to prevent diabetes.

Magnesium is a mineral found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and in nutritional supplements. Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and is needed for normal muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, immune function, blood pressure, and for bone health.


A 2005 study on the anti-diabetic effect of garlic in normal and lab-induced diabetic rats, published in the journal Phytomedicine, found that oral administration significantly decreased serum glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, urea, uric acid, creatinine, AST and ALT levels. While it increased serum insulin in diabetic rats, this was not so in the case of normal rats. It concluded that garlic must be considered as an excellent candidate for future human studies on diabetes mellitus. What’s better, garlic also helps reduce high cholesterol levels, a complication that diabetics often face. This makes it an excellent spice to use for in all recipes!

Dr. Mona Morstein is a naturopathic physician with a medical practice focused in integrative diabetes treatment. Her clinic, Arizona Integrative Medical Solutions, is located in Tempe, Arizona, where she sees patients of all ages and genders for acute and chronic conditions. An expert on prediabetes and diabetes, she is a frequent lecturer at conferences and webinars, and is the founder and executive director of The Low Carb Diabetes Association. Dr. Morstein is also a member of the Arizona Diabetes Coalition. Visit her website lowcarbdiabetes.org


Foods with a low glycemic load: The glycemic index of a food tells you about the blood glucose-raising potential of the food. Foods that have a high glycemic index are converted into sugar after being eaten more quickly than low glycemic foods. If you are fighting diabetes, stick to low glycemic foods like non-starchy vegetables, stone fruits and berries, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, organic meat, eggs, wild-caught fish, and raw pastured dairy.
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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.
Sulfonylureasmay increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Prolonged exercise and alcohol intake increase the risk for hypoglycemia. Patients undergoing surgery or who have had recent trauma, stress, or infection may need to switch from a sulfonylurea to insulin to manage blood sugar levels. People with kidney or liver disease need to take precaution.
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.

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


As of 2010, an estimated of 285 million people have type 2 diabetes globally, making up about 90% of all the diabetes cases. There is an alarming rise in the prevalence of diabetes in every part of the world, thanks to the eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. And, as opposed to the misconception that eating sweets can result in diabetes, stress and genes can also play a major role in this. As of today, number of diabetics is far more than anytime in the past. Now, even younger generation is not spared by this disease. Generally, diabetes is more common in people who are overweight or obese. Generally, fasting blood sugar levels per 100 ml of blood should be between 80 to 120 mg, which can go up to 160 mg/100 ml of blood after meals. Anything that is constantly above 160 mg/100 ml indicates diabetes. Usually, older and obese people are at increased risk of diabetes because of their inability to produce insulin and lifestyle.
Implementing integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy, I helped the patient understand that she could reverse the trajectory she was on by making lifestyle changes—and that’s what she did. We engaged in shared decision making in our ongoing nutrition consultations. Over the course of one year, her physiology and health status changed for the better. Her A1c dropped from 7.2% to 5.6%, and she no longer required medications. She continues to adhere to her new lifestyle program and is confident she’ll remain free of a diabetes diagnosis.
The prevalence of prediabetes is also on the rise, as it’s estimated that almost 34 million U.S. adults were prediabetic in 2015. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are above normal but below the defined threshold of diabetes. Without proper intervention, people with prediabetes are very likely to become type 2 diabetics within a decade.
Two major patterns of disharmony are associated with Qi. Deficient Qi occurs when there is insufficient Qi to perform the functions of life. Deficient Qi may affect one or more organs or the entire body. If the latter occurs, then the patient may experience lethargy, fatigue, and lack of desire to move. Stagnant Qi refers to impairment of the normal movement of Qi through the meridians (see discussion below) and may result in aches and pains in the body.4
During this 8-week study, β-cell function was tested by a gold standard method that used a stepped glucose infusion with subsequent arginine bolus (21). In type 2 diabetes, the glucose-induced initial rapid peak of insulin secretion (the first phase insulin response) typically is absent. This was confirmed at baseline in the study, but the first phase response increased gradually over 8 weeks of a very-low-calorie diet to become indistinguishable from that of age- and weight-matched nondiabetic control subjects. The maximum insulin response, as elicited by arginine bolus during hyperglycemia, also normalized. Pancreas fat content decreased gradually during the study period to become the same as that in the control group, a time course matching that of the increase in both first phase and total insulin secretion (Fig. 3). Fat content in the islets was not directly measured, although it is known that islets take up fat avidly (24) and that islet fat content closely reflects total pancreatic fat content in animal models (25). Although a cause-and-effect relationship between raised intraorgan fat levels and metabolic effect has not yet been proven, the time course data following the dietary intervention study are highly suggestive of a causal link (21).

Benari, an Ashkenazi Jew, doesn’t fall into that category. But Cummings and other bariatric experts I spoke to said that surgery should be a possible option for any person whose diabetes isn’t improving. Cummings himself is currently working on a clinical trial in India of bariatric patients with BMIs as low as 25. And he expects similar trials will come down the pipeline.

“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.”
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30.3 million people have diabetes, or some 9.4% of the US population. Type 1 diabetes sufferers’ pancreases make very little insulin or none at all. Without insulin—the hormone that enables blood sugar to enter the cells in your body where it can be used for energy—blood sugar can’t get into cells and dangerously builds up in the bloodstream.
It was the same endorsement the first Diabetes Surgery Summit, also organized by Cummings in 2007, had made, but the landscape had changed since then. In addition to more accumulated research, this time, their stance was backed by over 50 international professional organizations, including the American Diabetes Association. And while other medical societies and organizations had long backed surgery as an option for diabetes, the DSS-II guidelines are the first meant to guide clinical practice.
Swift urges RDs to be informed and stay up-to-date as complementary and alternative medicine data evolves. Use a “whole systems, whole person” approach to health and healing. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a good place to start. “They have an outstanding program on diabetes care that’s multidisciplinary and integrative,” Swift says. You also can receive continuing education credits for attending.

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.
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