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.
Reduce Stress– Stress raises cortisol and can lead to hormone imbalance, insulin issues and increases risk for certain types of disease. Work to reduce your sources of stress from lack of sleep, exposure to toxins, mental and emotional sources and poor diet. Getting quality sleep every night can help reduce stress hormone levels and is great for blood sugar.
Diabetes is a well-established problem and a multi-billion dollar industry. It is medically characterized by Fasting Blood Glucose higher than 126 mg/dL , which ranges between 100-125 mg/dL are considered pre-diabetic and ranges below 99 mg/dL are considered normal. Studies are finding that a fasting blood glucose below 83 mg/dL is actually a better benchmark, as risk of heart disease begins to increase at anything above that.
At the start of the study, all of the patients had been taking two oral diabetes drugs for at least six months. But they still had poorly controlled diabetes based on blood tests showing so-called hemoglobin A1c levels, which reflect average blood sugar levels over about three months. Readings above 6.5 signal diabetes, and everyone in the study had readings of at least 7.
If the T2DM has been recently diagnosed, there is a greater likelihood of being able to reverse the disease. Doing this requires losing approximately 5-10% of current body weight, balancing carbs and protein and engaging in daily physical exercise. A diabetes educator (C.D.E.) is the expert who can help put together a plan for realistic and permanent lifestyle changes.
11. Get regular eye exams: Diabetic retinopathy is caused by elevated levels of blood sugar, which can happen when diabetes goes out of control. The disease can damage the blood vessels around the eye and retina, leading to blurred vision and blindness. Diabetic retinopathy cannot be cured, and often has no early symptoms, which makes it difficult to catch. Diabetics should make sure they get regular eye exams, for early detection and treatment.
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.
“Basic principles of good health like eating right, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can be as effective as medicine in the management of type 2 diabetes for most people,” says Sue McLaughlin, RD, CDE, lead medical nutrition therapist at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. That's backed up by the Look AHEAD study, a large clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The researchers found that over a four-year period, changes like eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise led to weight loss and improved diabetes control in 5,000 overweight or obese participants with type 2 diabetes.
A useful test that has usually been done in a laboratory is the measurement of blood HbA1c levels. This is the ratio of glycated hemoglobin in relation to the total hemoglobin. Persistent raised plasma glucose levels cause the proportion of these molecules to go up. This is a test that measures the average amount of diabetic control over a period originally thought to be about 3 months (the average red blood cell lifetime), but more recently[when?] thought to be more strongly weighted to the most recent 2 to 4 weeks. In the non-diabetic, the HbA1c level ranges from 4.0–6.0%; patients with diabetes mellitus who manage to keep their HbA1c level below 6.5% are considered to have good glycemic control. The HbA1c test is not appropriate if there has been changes to diet or treatment within shorter time periods than 6 weeks or there is disturbance of red cell aging (e.g. recent bleeding or hemolytic anemia) or a hemoglobinopathy (e.g. sickle cell disease). In such cases the alternative Fructosamine test is used to indicate average control in the preceding 2 to 3 weeks.
Effect of an 8-week very-low-calorie diet in type 2 diabetes on arginine-induced maximal insulin secretion (A), first phase insulin response to a 2.8 mmol/L increase in plasma glucose (B), and pancreas triacylglycerol (TG) content (C). For comparison, data for a matched nondiabetic control group are shown as ○. Replotted with permission from Lim et al. (21).
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.
Chromium plays a vital role in binding to and activating the insulin receptor on body cells, reducing insulin resistance. Supplemental chromium has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, lipids, A1C, and insulin in diabetic patients. It can also help decrease one’s appetite, particularly for sweets. A dosage from 200 mcg to 2,000 mcg a day is safe. Higher doses are unnecessary and can cause acute kidney failure.
Unfortunately, most people are not given the benefit of this approach. When diagnosed with diabetes, most people are told to avoid sugar (good step, not the solution). If the problem is bad enough, they are told to take medication to give the body insulin. The problem is, as we saw above, diabetes is a problem with the body’s regulation of insulin, caused by a resistance to insulin and an overproduction to remove toxic amounts of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin is also dangerous if it is left circulating the the blood. Somehow, treating too much circulating glucose and insulin with more insulin doesn’t seem like the right approach…
Benefits of control and reduced hospital admission have been reported. However, patients on oral medication who do not self-adjust their drug dosage will miss many of the benefits of self-testing, and so it is questionable in this group. This is particularly so for patients taking monotherapy with metformin who are not at risk of hypoglycaemia. Regular 6 monthly laboratory testing of HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin) provides some assurance of long-term effective control and allows the adjustment of the patient's routine medication dosages in such cases. High frequency of self-testing in type 2 diabetes has not been shown to be associated with improved control. The argument is made, though, that type 2 patients with poor long term control despite home blood glucose monitoring, either have not had this integrated into their overall management, or are long overdue for tighter control by a switch from oral medication to injected insulin.
If you are interested in trying a natural treatment in addition to standard treatment, be sure do so only under the close supervision of your physician. If diabetes is not properly controlled, the consequences can be life-threatening. Also, inform your physician about any herbs, supplements, or natural treatments you are using, because some may interact with the medications you are taking and result in hypoglycemia unless properly coordinated.
Fasting plasma glucose concentration depends entirely on the fasting rate of hepatic glucose production and, hence, on its sensitivity to suppression by insulin. Hepatic insulin sensitivity cannot be inferred from observed postprandial change in hepatic glycogen concentration because glucose transport into the hepatocyte is not rate limiting, unlike in muscle, and hyperglycemia itself drives the process of glycogen synthesis irrespective of insulin action. Indeed, postprandial glycogen storage in liver has been shown to be moderately impaired in type 2 diabetes (50) compared with the marked impairment in skeletal muscle (51).
Diabetic persons are advised to make morning appointments to the dental care provider as during this time of the day the blood sugar levels tend to be better kept under control. Not least, individuals who suffer from diabetes must make sure both their physician and dental care provider are informed and aware of their condition, medical history and periodontal status.
Enriched with phytosterols, aloe vera can have an anti-hyperglycemic effect on the people with type 2 diabetics. Nutritionists suggest that it is a safe and natural source to alleviate fasting sugar levels in your blood. Also, you can prepare a mixture of turmeric, bay leaves, and aloe vera, this herbal medicine is said to control glucose in the blood.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.