Imagine our bodies to be a sugar bowl. A bowl of sugar. When we are young, our sugar bowl is empty. Over decades, we eat too much of the wrong things – sugary cereals, desserts and white bread. The sugar bowl gradually fills up with sugar until completely full. The next time you eat, sugar comes into the body, but the bowl is full, so it spills out into the blood.
The men took a six-hour educational course on diabetes and intermittent fasting prior to fasting. For the experiment, one man fasted for 24 hours three days per week, and the other two alternated their fasting days throughout the week. On fast days, they ate one low-calorie meal in the evening, and drank low-cal beverages, such as water, coffee, tea, and broth. The authors encouraged participants to opt for low-carb on the eating days.
Conventional treatment for Type 1 Diabetes generally involves insulin supplementation in the form of injections. Because Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder, it can affect both children and adults, and it’s not uncommon for diabetics to be dependent on lifelong insulin treatments. Type 2, on the other hand, is largely a product of poor lifestyle choices or little access to healthy foods, and is more likely to occur later in life. However, in recent years, there has been an alarming rise in Type 2 Diabetes cases among children and adolescents, which largely stems from an overwhelming obesity issue.
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.
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.
“The problem is we don’t treat diabetes as a dietary problem; we treat it with a lot of drugs, and that never addresses the root problem of the diabetes,” says principal investigator Jason Fung, MD, a kidney specialist at Scarborough and Rouge Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and author of The Complete Guide to Fasting,and The Obesity Code, a 2016 book thought to help popularize intermittent fasting.
Type 2 diabetes is almost always reversible and this is almost ridiculously easy to prove. This is great news for the more than 50% of American adults who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. Recognizing this truth is the crucial first step in reversing your diabetes or pre-diabetes. Actually, it something that most people already instinctively recognized to be true.
Some studies show that certain plant foods may help your body fight inflammation and use insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. Cinnamon extracts can improve sugar metabolism, triggering insulin release, which also boosts cholesterol metabolism. Clove oil extracts (eugenol) have been found to help insulin work and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. An unidentified compound in coffee (not caffeine) may enhance insulin sensitivity and lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Chronic exposure of β-cells to triacylglycerol or fatty acids either in vitro or in vivo decreases β-cell capacity to respond to an acute increase in glucose levels (57,58). This concept is far from new (59,60), but the observations of what happens during reversal of diabetes provide a new perspective. β-Cells avidly import fatty acids through the CD36 transporter (24,61) and respond to increased fatty acid supply by storing the excess as triacylglycerol (62). The cellular process of insulin secretion in response to an increase in glucose supply depends on ATP generation by glucose oxidation. However, in the context of an oversupply of fatty acids, such chronic nutrient surfeit prevents further increases in ATP production. Increased fatty acid availability inhibits both pyruvate cycling, which is normally increased during an acute increase in glucose availability, and pyruvate dehydrogenase activity, the major rate-limiting enzyme of glucose oxidation (63). Fatty acids have been shown to inhibit β-cell proliferation in vitro by induction of the cell cycle inhibitors p16 and p18, and this effect is magnified by increased glucose concentration (64). This antiproliferative effect is specifically prevented by small interfering RNA knockdown of the inhibitors. In the Zucker diabetic fatty rat, a genetic model of spontaneous type 2 diabetes, the onset of hyperglycemia is preceded by a rapid increase in pancreatic fat (58). It is particularly noteworthy that the onset of diabetes in this genetic model is completely preventable by restriction of food intake (65), illustrating the interaction between genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
There have been some small, limited studies as well as anecdotal reports that certain alternative or “natural” treatments can help control blood glucose levels in people with diabetes or otherwise prevent the condition or prevent its complications. These can include herbs or dietary supplements. Examples include garlic, cinnamon, alpha-lipoic acid, aloe vera, chromium, ginseng, and magnesium.
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)
And when I talk about reducing certain carbohydrates, I mainly mean reducing your intake of refined carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and bread. Non starchy vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) are fine and can be eaten in abundance. Many fruits are packed with carbohydrates, so if you’re trying to reduce your carb intake, try and limit your intake to low-carb fruit, such as rhubarb, watermelon, berries, peaches and blackberries.
If I could only prescribe one supplement for a diabetes patient, I would prescribe R-alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid has numerous benefits to the diabetic patient. It is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant and has been shown to protect patients with fatty liver from liver disease progression. It can help reduce insulin resistance and has been shown to protect people with diabetes from developing complications in their nerves, eyes, and kidneys. R-ALA can prevent glycosylation of proteins, which reduces the A1C level. It is safe, although very rarely it can cause stomach upset. Alpha-lipoic acid is listed either as ALA or R-ALA. When listed as ALA, this means it contains two forms—the S isomer form and the R isomer form, in a 50:50 ratio. The key is to find a product that says it contains “R-ALA” instead of just “ALA.” A good daily working dose of R-ALA is 300 to 1,200 mg a day, which is the equivalent of 600 to 2,400 mg a day of regular ALA, if you buy a regular ALA listed product.
In a person with carbohydrate intolerance, type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, this system breaks down. The body loses its insulin sensitivity and more and more insulin is required to remove the excess blood sugar. As a result, blood sugar levels remain high and insulin levels are high as well, and these high insulin levels can make your body even less sensitive to insulin.
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)
As a result of his research and his success stories, Taylor encourages other doctors to stop turning to diabetes medicines right away and more strongly encourage weight loss as the first step for their patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. And the sooner, the better, he says. While Maher reversed his diabetes decades later, that's not typical, Taylor says. The ideal management, he says, is to start serious weight loss efforts right away.
The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how treatment intensification might directly improve blood sugar. Researchers also lacked data to explain why doctors or patients might have decided against a change in therapy. And the study didn’t show whether failure to switch treatment regimens resulted in diabetes complications.
The medications only hide the blood sugar by cramming it into the engorged body. The diabetes looks better, since you can only see the blood sugars. Doctors can congratulate themselves on a illusion of a job well done, even as the patient gets continually sicker. Patients require ever increasing doses of medications and yet still suffer with heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes, kidney failure, amputations and blindness. “Oh well” the doctor tells himself, “It’s a chronic, progressive disease”.
Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone in your pancreas that helps your body use blood sugar and keeps blood sugar within a healthy range. But in the case of type 2 diabetes, a person’s body doesn’t use insulin properly, leading to insulin resistance. When your pancreas simply can't make enough insulin or use it well enough to control blood sugar, your doctor is likely to prescribe insulin injections.
These are a relatively new class of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. They are oral medications that work by blocking the kidneys' reabsorption of glucose, leading to increased glucose excretion and reduction of blood sugar levels. The US FDA approved the SGLT2 inhibitors canagliflozin (Invokana) in March 2013 and dapagliflozin (Farxiga) in January 2014.