Milk thistle is an herb that has been used since ancient times for many different ailments and is considered a tonic for the liver. The most studied extract from milk thistle is called silymarin, which is a compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is these properties that may make milk thistle a great herb for people with diabetes.
Some medical professionals use an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) to test for diabetes. If you’ve ever been pregnant and had to drink the sickeningly sweet sugar cocktail and then have blood drawn, you are familiar with this one. Basically, a patient is given 50-75 grams of glucose in concentrated solution and his blood sugar response is measured. I’m not a fan of this test because no one should be ingesting that much concentrated glucose, and the test is not a completely accurate measure. (Just a side note: if you are a drinker of the “Big Gulp” drinks or large amounts of soda, you are putting your body through a similar test each day! Eventually, your body will respond, probably with something like “Fine, you want diabetes, I’ll show you diabetes!)
Eating too many refined carbohydrates elevates your insulin levels for long periods of time and your cells start to become resistant to the effects of insulin. Think of this a bit like alcohol. When you start to drink, a single glass of wine can make you feel drunk. Once your body becomes accustomed to drinking, you need more and more alcohol to achieve the same effect. This is what happens in diabetes. You need more and more insulin to do the same thing. The problem is that too much insulin is toxic to the body.
Testosterone replacement therapy may improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in diabetic hypogonadal men. The mechanisms by which testosterone decreases insulin resistance is under study. Moreover, testosterone may have a protective effect on pancreatic beta cells, which is possibly exerted by androgen-receptor-mediated mechanisms and influence of inflammatory cytokines.
All of the above contributing factors don’t usually happen by themselves. Since the body functions as a whole, a problem in one area will usually correlate to problems in others. A combination of the factors above can be the catalyst for a full blown case of diabetes (or a lot of other diseases). While researchers often look at a single variable when trying to discover a cure for a disease, often the best approach is one that addresses the body as a whole. As with all diseases, the best cure is good prevention, but certain measures can help reverse disease once it has occurred.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body cannot use insulin properly or make enough insulin, so the body cannot properly use or store glucose (a form of sugar) and sugar backs up into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels. In the United States, some 8.9 percent of adults 20 and older have been found to have diabetes, and health officials estimate that another 3.5 percent have undiagnosed diabetes.
Patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus require direct injection of insulin as their bodies cannot produce enough (or even any) insulin. As of 2010, there is no other clinically available form of insulin administration other than injection for patients with type 1: injection can be done by insulin pump, by jet injector, or any of several forms of hypodermic needle. Non-injective methods of insulin administration have been unattainable as the insulin protein breaks down in the digestive tract. There are several insulin application mechanisms under experimental development as of 2004, including a capsule that passes to the liver and delivers insulin into the bloodstream. There have also been proposed vaccines for type I using glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), but these are currently not being tested by the pharmaceutical companies that have sublicensed the patents to them.
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.
To make matters worse for the inactive, carb addict, when the body senses glucose in the bloodstream, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin (perhaps you’ve heard of it?) to signal the body to store the glucose as glycogen. If the glycogen receptors are full and it can’t do this, the body thinks that the cells didn’t get the message and releases even more insulin.
Ordinary calorie restriction through any diet can lead to weight loss and make it easier to manage blood sugar. Intermittent fasting is thought to go a step further by lowering serum insulin, which triggers the body to burn stored sugar, called glycogen, along with fat, in the absence of glucose from food, Dr. Fung says. These processes (called glycogenolysis and lipolysis, respectively) can temporarily lower blood sugar and cause weight loss.
Conventional cow’s milk: Conventional cow’s milk and dairy products should be eliminated, especially for people with type 1 diabetes. Dairy can be a fantastic food for balancing blood sugar if it comes from goat’s, sheep or A2 cows. But stay away from all other forms of dairy because the A1 casein produced by conventional cows will harm the body and trigger an immune response similar to gluten. When buying dairy, only purchase raw and organic products from pasture-raised animals.
Ideally, insulin should be administered in a manner that mimics the natural pattern of insulin secretion by a healthy pancreas. However, the complex pattern of natural insulin secretion is difficult to duplicate. Still, adequate blood glucose control can be achieved with careful attention to diet, regular exercise, home blood glucose monitoring, and multiple insulin injections throughout the day..