Beware of claims that seem too good to be true. Look for scientific-based sources of information. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse collects resource information for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Reference Collection, a service of the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse.
One of the most studied programs in the National Institutes of Health’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). This program helps people who have pre-diabetes or a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes lose weight. Studies of the program have found that those who lost about seven percent of their initial weight, kept some of it off, and maintained an exercise program delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes for three years in 58% of cases.

“For me it’s a personal challenge – going from being completely 100% sedentary to climbing the highest mountain in Africa. One thing I’ve learnt on this journey is that I’m capable of so much more than I ever thought possible – and this is just another way of proving that to myself. It’s also a way of showing people with diabetes that there is always greatness within you; that you have the power to change your diagnosis and your destiny one step at a time.”
Over the last century, advancements in new treatments aided by the remarkable developments in computer technology have helped many people better manage the disease, but achieving optimal glucose control remains an unattainable goal for the vast majority of those with diabetes, and particularly among young people. Despite patients' best attempts, managing diabetes remains a challenging, daily balancing act that requires constant vigilance. That's because insulin therapy cannot ideally mimic the exquisite biological function of a healthy pancreas. And that's why the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation remain passionately committed to achieving this singular goal. Learn more about our progress toward a cure and the steps we are taking to turn our vision into reality.
Before making any fiber recommendations, Dean has her patients tested for “pancreatic insufficiency.” She believes people with pancreatic insufficiency should be given digestive enzymes along with fiber, “otherwise the fiber will just bloat them up, and they’ll be quite unhappy,” she says. Dean uses a glucomannan fiber supplement for her patients with type 2 diabetes.

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 researchers concluded that the herb might help treat or prevent type 2 diabetes. They noted that S. oblonga appears to act in the same way as today’s oral diabetes drugs (alpha-glucoside inhibitors) in interfering with the absorption of carbohydrates. S. oblonga is not free of side effects, however. It can cause the same gas and cramping as the prescription drugs, particularly in higher doses.
When cells are resistant to insulin, they don’t use the insulin effectively to bring the glucose from the bloodstream into the cell. The pancreas needs to produce more insulin to overcome this resistance in an effort to normalize blood sugar levels. When the pancreas can’t keep up with the insulin demands in a person with insulin resistance, that person develops diabetes.
Chinese medicine has been using cinnamon for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. It has been the subject of numerous studies to determine its effect on blood glucose levels. A 2011 study has shown that cinnamon, in whole form or extract, helps lower fasting blood glucose levels. More studies are being done, but cinnamon is showing promise for helping to treat diabetes.

Another study published in the same journal, however, examined the effect of chromium on glycemic control in insulin-dependent people with type 2 diabetes. People were given either 500 or 1,000 mcg a day of chromium or a placebo for six months. There was no significant difference in glycosylated hemoglobin, body mass index, blood pressure, or insulin requirements across the three groups.
For over a decade, Cummings and others have tried to reframe the very concept of bariatric surgery (they prefer “metabolic surgery”). Their work has shown these procedures just don’t change how much food the stomach can fit; they trigger a cascade of metabolic and bodily changes, many of which help people with type 2 diabetes naturally get their blood sugar under control. Some changes even start happening before a patient loses weight, such as higher levels of peptide production in the gut that seem to restore a patient’s sensitivity to insulin.
There are many promising studies suggesting chromium supplementation may be effective, but they are far from conclusive. For example, a small study published in the journal Diabetes Care compared the diabetes medication sulfonylurea taken with 1,000 mcg of chromium to sulfonylurea taken with a placebo. After 6 months, people who did not take chromium had a significant increase in body weight, body fat, and abdominal fat, whereas people taking the chromium had significant improvements in insulin sensitivity.
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.
Type 1 diabetes is a particularly unpleasant condition. It occurs when the pancreas ceases to produce the insulin needed by the body to metabolize sugar and, until the invention of artificial insulin injections, it was as deadly as cancer. Type 2 is the less severe form of the disease, where the body produces insufficient insulin; it can often be managed through diet alone.
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
Diabetes is an illness related to elevated blood sugar levels. When you stop releasing and responding to normal amounts of insulin after eating foods with carbohydrates, sugar and fats, you have diabetes. Insulin, a hormone that’s broken down and transported to cells to be used as energy, is released by the pancreas to help with the storage of sugar and fats. But people with diabetes don’t respond to insulin properly, which causes high blood sugar levels and diabetes symptoms.
Each day, researchers all over the world are working to find a cure for diabetes, and many advances have made treatment easier and more effective. Insulin might soon be available in patch and spray forms, and scientists continue efforts to improve results of pancreas or islet cell transplants. Versions of an "artificial pancreas" — a device that senses blood sugar continuously and gives insulin directly based on the blood sugar level — also are being tested.
During digestion, pancreatic beta cells release not only insulin, but in a much smaller amount, the hormone amylin, which helps mediate sharp rises in blood glucose levels following meals. Pramlintide (Symlin) is a new, synthetic form of amylin that may help improve blood glucose control for some type 1 and type 2 diabetic people who use insulin. Pramlintide has few side effects (nausea is the main one) but it adds another set of injections to a diabetic person's daily pharmaceutical routine, as it cannot be mixed in the same syringe with insulin.
In 2017 the results of the DIRECT study were published, where obese type 2 diabetic were put on a 830 Cal diet for 6 month by their GPs (the two former studies were led by medical specialists), mean weight loss 15% ≈ 15 kg Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial. The more weight one lost, the higher the success rates
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).

Before making any fiber recommendations, Dean has her patients tested for “pancreatic insufficiency.” She believes people with pancreatic insufficiency should be given digestive enzymes along with fiber, “otherwise the fiber will just bloat them up, and they’ll be quite unhappy,” she says. Dean uses a glucomannan fiber supplement for her patients with type 2 diabetes.


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Because TCM defines diabetes as a disease characterized by Yin deficiency and excess internal heat, an example of a dietary prescription would be to consume spinach, which is cooling, “strengthens all the organs, lubricates the intestines, and promotes urination.”7 A recommendation might be to boil tea from spinach and drink 1 cup three times/day. Other foods considered to be cooling and beneficial for diabetes include vegetables and grains, such as celery, pumpkin, soybeans (i.e., tofu, soymilk), string beans, sweet potato/yam, turnips, tomato, wheat bran, and millet. Fruit remedies, which act in specific therapeutic ways, include crab apple, guava, plum, strawberry, and mulberry.7 It is generally recommended that patients eat a wide variety of seasonal foods and avoid or minimize consumption of sweets and fruits. Meals should be smaller, eaten more frequently, and eaten at regular times each day.
Efforts to cure or stop type 1 diabetes are still in the early stages, and these approaches will also not be suitable for people that have already lost their insulin-producing cells. A solution could be the creation of an “artificial pancreas” — a fully automated system that can measure glucose levels and inject the right amount of insulin into the bloodstream, just like a healthy pancreas would.
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