Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps turn glucose into fuel for the body. It effectively improves insulin sensitivity and reduces symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, such as weakness, pain and numbness that’s caused by nerve damage. Although we make alpha lipoic acid and it can be found in some food sources, like broccoli, spinach and tomatoes, taking an ALA supplement will increase the amount that circulates in your body, which can be extremely beneficial when trying to reverse diabetes naturally. (17)
One of my patients, aged 58, had an initial hemoglobin A1c of 7.2%. She was taking oral hypoglycemic agents, statins, and proton pump inhibitors—the basic treatment for every diabetes diagnosis. The patient was 28 lbs overweight and worked long hours. She didn’t exercise, mostly ate a processed food diet, and was sleep deprived. The patient had a family history of diabetes, and ultimately her lifestyle expressed her genetic tendencies.
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.
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An aromatic herb that is used commonly to add flavor and aroma to meats and soups, Rosemary also helps normalize blood sugar levels naturally. It promotes weight loss as well, which is a double boon for many diabetics who struggle with weight issues. A research conducted in Jordan to study the effects of rosemary on lipid profile in diabetic rats proved that rosemary has no significant influence on serum glucose level and lipid profile of normal rats. But when rosemary extract was administered to diabetic rats for 4 weeks, their blood sugar levels reduced by 20%, cholesterol levels by 22%, triglyceride levels by 24%, and LDL by 27% while HDL increased by 18% respectively. The study was published in African Journal of Plant Science Vol. 6 in 2012.
For type 2 diabetics, diabetic management consists of a combination of diet, exercise, and weight loss, in any achievable combination depending on the patient. Obesity is very common in type 2 diabetes and contributes greatly to insulin resistance. Weight reduction and exercise improve tissue sensitivity to insulin and allow its proper use by target tissues. Patients who have poor diabetic control after lifestyle modifications are typically placed on oral hypoglycemics. Some Type 2 diabetics eventually fail to respond to these and must proceed to insulin therapy. A study conducted in 2008 found that increasingly complex and costly diabetes treatments are being applied to an increasing population with type 2 diabetes. Data from 1994 to 2007 was analyzed and it was found that the mean number of diabetes medications per treated patient increased from 1.14 in 1994 to 1.63 in 2007.
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).
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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.
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.
A further danger of insulin treatment is that while diabetic microangiopathy is usually explained as the result of hyperglycemia, studies in rats indicate that the higher than normal level of insulin diabetics inject to control their hyperglycemia may itself promote small blood vessel disease. While there is no clear evidence that controlling hyperglycemia reduces diabetic macrovascular and cardiovascular disease, there are indications that intensive efforts to normalize blood glucose levels may worsen cardiovascular and cause diabetic mortality.
One of the lesser known herbs that lower blood sugar, Marjoram, is high in polyphenols, which aids in stabilizing blood glucose levels. A 2012 study in the Journal of Evidence Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that Marjoram reduced formation of Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products. AGE is the smoking gun that researchers today say is responsible for a lot of the complications that diabetics face, like damage to arteries and eyes. Try sprinkling marjoram on your dinner every night to help add variety in flavor. It can often be used as a substitute for oregano in cooking and brings in a distinct flavor to dishes.
The problem with the medication-based approach is that you’ll most likely have to be on these medications for the rest of your life. They are expensive and many come with a host of side effects. The medication approach focuses on management of diabetes, not reversal. Taking medications for type 2 diabetes combats the end result, which is rising blood sugar, but does not address the root causes—insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance.
In discussing self management with the person with diabetes I focus on how healthy lifestyle behaviors can change the treatment plan. Introducing healthy lifestyle behaviors by providing consistent and predictable meals, daily activity, healthy coping and consistent medication management can improve overall glucose control and may change the overall treatment plan for managing diabetes.
Relying on their own perceptions of symptoms of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia is usually unsatisfactory as mild to moderate hyperglycemia causes no obvious symptoms in nearly all patients. Other considerations include the fact that, while food takes several hours to be digested and absorbed, insulin administration can have glucose lowering effects for as little as 2 hours or 24 hours or more (depending on the nature of the insulin preparation used and individual patient reaction). In addition, the onset and duration of the effects of oral hypoglycemic agents vary from type to type and from patient to patient.
Before making any fiber recommendations, Dean has her patients tested for “pancreatic insufficiency.” She believes people with pancreatic insufficiency should be given digestive enzymes along with fiber, “otherwise the fiber will just bloat them up, and they’ll be quite unhappy,” she says. Dean uses a glucomannan fiber supplement for her patients with type 2 diabetes.