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.
She says that the problem with diabetes is that it’s a silent disease. “Apart from needing to go to the loo a few times in the middle of the night, I experienced zero symptoms. Diabetes had no impact on my life – 99% of the time I forgot I even had it. Perhaps if it had been a disease with more symptoms, I would have been more motivated to do something about it.”
It’s long been believed that the condition is manageable, but not curable. According to findings published in the journal The Lancet, however, type 2 diabetes can be reversed through weight loss. More specifically, by reducing the amount of fat being carried in and around the abdomen, as accumulated fat in this region impedes the function of the pancreas.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a system of healing that is thousands of years old. It has long been utilized in the Chinese culture to treat the complex of symptoms that Western medicine terms diabetes mellitus. 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 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, over 30 million people living in the United States have diabetes. That’s almost 10 percent of the U.S. population. And diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, causing, at least in part, over 250,000 deaths in 2015. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to reverse diabetes and the diabetes epidemic in America.
According to studies, cinnamon may have a positive effect on the glycemic control and the lipid profile in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2. This is because it contains 18% polyphenol content in dry weight. This popular Indian spice can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control. According to a study published in Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine, “cinnamon lowered HbA1C by 0.83% compared with standard medication alone lowering HbA1C  0.37%. Taking cinnamon could be useful for lowering serum HbA1C in type 2 diabetics with HbA1C >7.0 in addition to usual care.”
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.
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.
The acids and digestive juices in the stomach and intestines can break down and destroy insulin if it is swallowed, so it can't be taken as a pill. The only way to get insulin into the body now is by injection with a needle or with an insulin pump. Unless they're using an insulin pump, most kids need two or more injections every day to keep blood sugar levels under control. Usually, two different types of insulin are needed to handle blood sugar needs both after eating and between meals.
A major feature of the disease is a condition known as insulin resistance.  Insulin is a hormone that moves glucose (sugar), from the bloodstream into the body’s cells where it is used for energy.  For a variety of reasons that are not fully understood, the body’s tissues don’t respond adequately to insulin and glucose then becomes elevated in the bloodstream.

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
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.
Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their disease by making healthy food choices and being more physically active. Many people with type 2 diabetes need diabetes medicines as well. These medicines may include diabetes pills or medicines you inject under your skin, such as insulin. In time, you may need more than one diabetes medicine to control your blood glucose. Even if you do not take insulin, you may need it at special times, such as during pregnancy or if you are in the hospital.
The American Diabetes Association contends the promise of an unlimited source of beta cells from stem cell technology is likely to become a reality in the next several years, in an article on its site. “However, how to use this new source of cells, how these cells live and function after transplantation, and how to best control immune responses against the transplanted tissue present additional barriers to the widespread use of islet transplant. Research in these areas will be essential for the realization of the potential of stem cell derived islets for the cure of diabetes.”
“Three years after receiving two administrations of the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine four weeks apart, all members of a group of adults with longstanding type 1 diabetes showed an improvement in HbA1c to near normal levels – improvement that persisted for the following five years. The study from a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team – published in npj Vaccines – also reports that the effects of BCG vaccine on blood sugar control appear to depend on a totally novel metabolic mechanism that increases cellular consumption of glucose.
The role of physical activity must be considered. Increased levels of daily activity bring about decreases in liver fat stores (43), and a single bout of exercise substantially decreases both de novo lipogenesis (39) and plasma VLDL (92). Several studies demonstrated that calorie control combined with exercise is much more successful than calorie restriction alone (93). However, exercise programs alone produce no weight loss for overweight middle-aged people (94). The necessary initial major loss of body weight demands a substantial reduction in energy intake. After weight loss, steady weight is most effectively achieved by a combination of dietary restriction and physical activity. Both aerobic and resistance exercise are effective (95). The critical factor is sustainability.

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.
Big pharma are in the early stages of developing their own cell therapy approaches for diabetes. Novo Nordisk, one of the largest providers of diabetes treatments, is bidding for stem cells and an encapsulation device, stating that the first clinical trial could take place in the “next few years.” Sanofi, also a big name in diabetes, is working with the German Evotec in a beta cell replacement therapy for diabetics.
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