A couple of studies have found that cinnamon improves blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. In the first study, 60 people with type 2 diabetes were divided into six groups. Three groups took 1, 3 or 6 g of cinnamon a day and the remaining three groups consumed 1, 3 or 6 g of placebo capsules. After 40 days, all three doses of cinnamon significantly reduced fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
If you'd like some proof that diabetes is a disease you can live well with, consider the accomplishments of these prolific people with diabetes: jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, singer Ella Fitzgerald, actress Mary Tyler Moore, and baseball Hall-of-Famer Jim "Catfish" Hunter. Even before treatment was as sophisticated as it is today, author Ernest Hemingway and inventor Thomas Edison, both of whom had diabetes, managed to leave their marks on the world.
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.
In 2003, ephedrine -- also known as ma huang -- became the first herbal stimulant ever banned by the FDA. It was a popular component of over-the-counter weight loss drugs. Ephedrine had some benefits, but it could cause far more harm, especially in high doses: insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep), high blood pressure, glaucoma, and urinary retention. This herbal supplement has also been associated with numerous cases of stroke.
In obese young people, decreased β-cell function has recently been shown to predict deterioration of glucose tolerance (4,78). Additionally, the rate of decline in glucose tolerance in first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic individuals is strongly related to the loss of β-cell function, whereas insulin sensitivity changes little (79). This observation mirrors those in populations with a high incidence of type 2 diabetes in which transition from hyperinsulinemic normal glucose tolerance to overt diabetes involves a large, rapid rise in glucose levels as a result of a relatively small further loss of acute β-cell competence (3). The Whitehall II study showed in a large population followed prospectively that people with diabetes exhibit a sudden rise in fasting glucose as β-cell function deteriorates (Fig. 5) (80). Hence, the ability of the pancreas to mount a normal, brisk insulin response to an increasing plasma glucose level is lost in the 2 years before the detection of diabetes, although fasting plasma glucose levels may have been at the upper limit of normal for several years. This was very different from the widely assumed linear rise in fasting plasma glucose level and gradual β-cell decompensation but is consistent with the time course of markers of increased liver fat before the onset of type 2 diabetes observed in other studies (81). Data from the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study demonstrated that plasma triacylglycerol and ALT levels were modestly elevated 2 years before the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and that there was a steady rise in the level of this liver enzyme in the run-up to the time of diagnosis (75).
Levels greater than 13–15 mmol/L (230–270 mg/dL) are considered high, and should be monitored closely to ensure that they reduce rather than continue to remain high. The patient is advised to seek urgent medical attention as soon as possible if blood sugar levels continue to rise after 2–3 tests. High blood sugar levels are known as hyperglycemia, which is not as easy to detect as hypoglycemia and usually happens over a period of days rather than hours or minutes. If left untreated, this can result in diabetic coma and death.
Try to keep carbohydrate amounts stable across the day (some choose lower carbohydrate targets), stand more and sit less and include activities that increase the heart rate and also strength based activities most days across the week. Think about the amount of stress you experience to see how it is increasing your blood glucose levels. If you smoke – stop because it is speeding up the damage to your blood vessels. If you drink alcohol, limit how much you drink.
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).
Given the consequences of diabetes, self-management is something I want to encourage, not discourage. Without a commitment from the patient to take an active role in managing their diabetes, any treatment plan is doomed to fail. So is self-treatment with supplements a wise idea? There’s an array available, and patients regularly ask about the latest treatment “Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about”. That treatment used to be chromium. Ginseng was popular for a time, too. Fenugreek and bitter melon are used as well. The treatment that seems most popular now is cinnamon. Like any other herbal remedy, most sources will tell you that it’s been used for “thousands of years” as a medicinal herb. As a treatment for diabetes, I have my doubts. While reports of diabetes go back to 1552 BCE, the ability to effectively measure any diabetes treatment only goes back a few decades. Interest in cinnamon as a treatment seems to have started with in vitro tests but gained some plausibility in 2003, when a study from Alam Khan suggested several grams of cassia cinnamon per day could lower fasting blood glucose. Khan randomized Type 2 diabetes to 1g, 3g, or 6g of cinnamon for 40 days. All three groups improved their fasting blood glucose, and blood lipid levels, but there was no effect on A1C.
Diabetes can be very complicated, and the physician needs to have as much information as possible to help the patient establish an effective management plan. Physicians may often experience data overload resulting from hundreds of blood-glucose readings, insulin dosages and other health factors occurring between regular office visits which must be deciphered during a relatively brief visit with the patient to determine patterns and establish or modify a treatment plan.
A history of blood sugar level results is especially useful for the diabetic to present to their doctor or physician in the monitoring and control of the disease. Failure to maintain a strict regimen of testing can accelerate symptoms of the condition, and it is therefore imperative that any diabetic patient strictly monitor their glucose levels regularly.
When you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you need to be very aware of not only what you eat, but also when and how much you eat. A Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) at Joslin can work with you to develop a healthy meal plan that fits your lifestyle. Following a meal plan can also help you lose weight and lower your risk of developing complications.
Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have demonstrated that face-to-face training programs designed to help individuals with type 1 diabetes better anticipate, detect, and prevent extreme BG can reduce the occurrence of future hypoglycemia-related driving mishaps. An internet-version of this training has also been shown to have significant beneficial results. Additional NIH funded research to develop internet interventions specifically to help improve driving safety in drivers with type 1 diabetes is currently underway.
A popular spice used in Indian cooking, and the main ingredient of ‘curry’ that has taken the world by storm, turmeric has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that all come together to help diabetics manage more stable blood sugar levels. It helps boost immunity and prevent infections that diabetics are often vulnerable to. Studies conducted on rats prove that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is effective in reducing plasma glucose level and HbA1C as well as improving the lipid profile. Many diabetics also suffer from arthritis, since the sugar laden blood and inflammatory processes typical to diabetes often damage joints. Turmeric, with its anti-inflammatory abilities, also helps with these joint pains.
It’s the patients with type 2 diabetes that lean towards supplements. While lifestyle modifications (exercise, weight loss, and smoking cessation) are the foundation for managing diabetes, drug treatment is usually also required. There are an array of prescription drugs like metformin and glyburide with a long history of use and demonstrated efficacy. Some drugs even decrease mortality – the primary outcome we’re after. But proper treatment has also been shown to the reduce the risk of an array of other consequences: Diabetes is the biggest cause of blindness, kidney failure and non-traumatic amputation. Diabetes is associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, too. Yet despite the irreversible consequences of diabetes, and the availability of effective medications, type 2 diabetes remains poorly-controlled in many, often because of poor self-management.
If diagnosed at an early stage, diabetes can be controlled with some minor lifestyle changes. A person can straightaway keep a check on his/her diet and start exercising on a regular basis. At any stage of diabetes, however, lifestyle changes are required. Therefore, it is better to imbibe these changes in one's life as soon as one comes to know about this disease.
The American Diabetes Association publishes treatment guidelines for physicians based on all available scientific evidence. In the 2018 guidelines document, Standard of Medical Care in Diabetes, the ADA states that there is not sufficient evidence to support the use of any of the proposed alternative treatments for diabetes. These guidelines state that: