Keep your immunizations up to date. High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year, and your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends the hepatitis B vaccination if you haven't previously received this vaccine and you're an adult age 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you are age 60 or older, have diabetes and haven't previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you.
Magnesium deficiency is not uncommon in people with diabetes, and it can worsen high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Some studies suggest that supplementing with magnesium may improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels, but other studies have shown no benefit. Have your doctor check you for deficiency before supplementing with magnesium. These are signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium.
The problem, of course, has not been solved – the sugar bowl is still overflowing. You’ve only moved sugar from the blood (where you could see it) into the body (where you couldn’t see it). So, the very next time you eat, the exact same thing happens. Sugar comes in, spills out into the blood and you take metformin to cram the sugar back into the body. This works for a while, but eventually, the body fills up with sugar, too. Now, that same dose of metformin cannot force any more sugar into the body.
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:
Also called weight-loss surgery or metabolic surgery, bariatric surgery may help some people with obesity and type 2 diabetes lose a large amount of weight and regain normal blood glucose levels. Some people with diabetes may no longer need their diabetes medicine after bariatric surgery. Whether and for how long blood glucose levels improve seems to vary by the patient, type of weight-loss surgery, and amount of weight the person loses. Other factors include how long someone has had diabetes and whether or not the person uses insulin.1
There were 298 adults on the trial aged 20–65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last six years, from 49 primary care practices in Scotland and Tyneside. Half of the practices put their patients on the very low calorie diet, while the rest were a control group, in which patients received usual care. Only 4% of the control group managed to achieve remission.
In addition to walking and stretching exercises, try interval training cardio, like burst training, or weight training three to five days a week for 20–40 minutes. Burst training can help you burn up to three times more body fat than traditional cardio and can naturally increase insulin sensitivity. You can do this on a spin bike with intervals, or you can try burst training at home.
Exercise naturally supports your metabolism by burning fat and building lean muscle. To prevent and reverse diabetes, make exercise a part of your daily routine. This doesn’t necessary mean that you have to spend time at the gym. Simple forms of physical activity, like getting outside and walking for 20 to 30 minute every day, can be extremely beneficial, especially after meals. Practicing yoga or stretching at home or in a studio is another great option.
Diabetes is a costly disease, placing a high financial burden on the patient and the healthcare system. If poorly managed or left untreated, it can cause blindness, loss of kidney function, and conditions that require the amputation of digits or limbs. The CDC reports that it’s also a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
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.
Most of us ignored the manual, just plugged it in and tried to figure out the rest. That’s why we all had the blinking 12:00 on. Today, most new electronics now come with a quick start guide which has the most basic 4 or 5 steps to get your machine working and then anything else you needed, you could reference the detailed instruction manual. Instruction manuals are just so much more useful this way.
Self-testing is clearly important in type I diabetes where the use of insulin therapy risks episodes of hypoglycaemia and home-testing allows for adjustment of dosage on each administration. However its benefit in type 2 diabetes is more controversial as there is much more variation in severity of type 2 cases. It has been suggested that some type 2 patients might do as well with home urine-testing alone. The best use of home blood-sugar monitoring is being researched.
Gene therapy can be used to manufacture insulin directly: an oral medication, consisting of viral vectors containing the insulin sequence, is digested and delivers its genes to the upper intestines. Those intestinal cells will then behave like any viral infected cell, and will reproduce the insulin protein. The virus can be controlled to infect only the cells which respond to the presence of glucose, such that insulin is produced only in the presence of high glucose levels. Due to the limited numbers of vectors delivered, very few intestinal cells would actually be impacted and would die off naturally in a few days. Therefore, by varying the amount of oral medication used, the amount of insulin created by gene therapy can be increased or decreased as needed. As the insulin-producing intestinal cells die off, they are boosted by additional oral medications.
A spice that is popular for soothing your stomach and aiding digestion, Ginger also has the ability to normalize blood sugar levels. Multiple studies conducted on rats show that ginger extract can have a significant anti-hyperglycemic effect. It lowers serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and increases the HDL-cholesterol levels. Diabetes is a digestive disorder. Diabetics often face issues with acid reflux. Ginger soothes the entire digestive tract, giving diabetics another reason to add ginger to their supplement regimen.
As self-management of diabetes typically involves lifestyle modifications, adherence may pose a significant self-management burden on many individuals. For example, individuals with diabetes may find themselves faced with the need to self-monitor their blood glucose levels, adhere to healthier diets and maintain exercise regimens regularly in order to maintain metabolic control and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems. Barriers to adherence have been associated with key psychological mechanisms: knowledge of self-management, beliefs about the efficacy of treatment and self-efficacy/perceived control. Such mechanisms are inter-related, as one's thoughts (e.g. one's perception of diabetes, or one's appraisal of how helpful self-management is) is likely to relate to one's emotions (e.g. motivation to change), which in turn, affects one's self-efficacy (one's confidence in their ability to engage in a behaviour to achieve a desired outcome).
You’ll give yourself insulin shots using a needle and syringe. You will draw up your dose of insulin from the vial, or bottle, into the syringe. Insulin works fastest when you inject it in your belly, but you should rotate spots where you inject insulin. Other injection spots include your thigh, buttocks, or upper arm. Some people with diabetes who take insulin need two to four shots a day to reach their blood glucose targets. Others can take a single shot.
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.
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.
Omega 6 oils are also a relatively new addition to the diet, making their appearance in the early 1900s. Oils in this category include vegetable, canola, cottonseed, soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, etc. Consumption of these oils increased in the 1950s when they were promoted as a “healthy” alternative to saturated fats (they weren’t). Research is now showing that consumption of these oils increases risk for obesity and can damage thyroid function. They contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation, further aggravating the poor pancreas.
So you go to your doctor. What does he do? Instead of getting rid of the toxic sugar load, he doubles the dose of the medication. If the luggage doesn’t close, the solution is to empty it out, not use more force to . The higher dose of medication helps, for a time. Blood sugars go down as you force your body to gag down even more sugar. But eventually, this dose fails as well. So then your doctor gives you a second medication, then a third one and then eventually insulin injections.
In addition, a strong partnership between the patient and the primary healthcare provider – general practitioner or internist – is an essential tool in the successful management of diabetes. Often the primary care doctor makes the initial diagnosis of diabetes and provides the basic tools to get the patient started on a management program. Regular appointments with the primary care physician and a certified diabetes educator are some of the best things a patient can do in the early weeks after a diagnosis of diabetes. Upon the diagnosis of diabetes, the primary care physician, specialist, or endocrinologist will conduct a full physical and medical examination. A thorough assessment covers topics such as:
Alternative medicine for diabetes is big business, because the public health burden of diabetes is massive, and growing. In 1985, the worldwide prevalence was 30 million people. In 2000, it was 150 million. By 2030, it could be 250 million. Why are more people being diagnosed with diabetes? Obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and an aging population. At its core, diabetes is a disease of sugar (glucose) management. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, allows cells to use glucose. When the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, it’s called Type 1 diabetes. This is an autoimmune disease that strikes early in life, and was a death sentence until insulin was discovered. When the pancreas can produce insulin, but the amount is insufficient, or when there’s a problem with the uptake of insulin into cells, it’s termed type 2 diabetes. 90% of all diabetes is type 2. Typically a disease of older adults, type 2 diabetes can potentially be treated without drugs of any kind, but success rates are low and medication is eventually advisable. There’s also gestational diabetes, a disease of pregnancy, and prediabetes, where blood sugars are elevated, and diabetes is an expected future diagnosis.
“This is a radical change in our understanding of Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Roy Taylor, a professor at Newcastle University in England and the study’s senior author. “If we can get across the message that ‘yes, this is a reversible disease — that you will have no more diabetes medications, no more sitting in doctors’ rooms, no more excess health charges’ — that is enormously motivating.”
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.
This healthy lifestyle we refer to is being active 150 minutes or more each week and eating a meal plan low in fat and processed sugar with 3-5 vegetables and 2-3 fruits a day most days. It does not require low or no carbohydrate diet like Atkins or counting carbohydrates every meal. Most folks do better when they spread the carbohydrates out evenly over the day.
Studies conducted in the United States and Europe showed that drivers with type 1 diabetes had twice as many collisions as their non-diabetic spouses, demonstrating the increased risk of driving collisions in the type 1 diabetes population. Diabetes can compromise driving safety in several ways. First, long-term complications of diabetes can interfere with the safe operation of a vehicle. For example, diabetic retinopathy (loss of peripheral vision or visual acuity), or peripheral neuropathy (loss of feeling in the feet) can impair a driver’s ability to read street signs, control the speed of the vehicle, apply appropriate pressure to the brakes, etc.
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.
A 2012 review of ginseng in animals and human beings found that not only does ginseng reduce insulin resistance, it also lowers HbA1C levels. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as one of the most potent herbs for blood sugar control. Indian ginseng, also called Ashwagandha, offers fantastic all round benefits. Scientists are also researching the connection between diabetes and Alzhiemer’s. Panax Ginseng is a type of ginseng that is able to help with both diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Beware of claims that seem too good to be true. Look for scientific-based sources of information. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse collects resource information for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Reference Collection, a service of the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse.
Dr. Sivitz emphasizes the importance of being active, eating a healthy diet, and having a good understanding of the role that carbohydrates play. He recommends eating healthy carbs, such as nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nonfat dairy products. A certified diabetes educator or a registered dietitian can help personalize your diet and teach you strategies to control your blood sugar. Depending on your desired blood sugar range and weight loss goals, recommendations for foods, carbohydrate intake, and portion sizes may vary. Regardless, if you have diabetes, it will be important to count carbs in your diet because, while not off limits, they can lead to blood sugar spikes when overeaten.
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.
Following these five principles can significantly influence blood glucose levels. However, not everyone responds the same. Some people with have immediate low blood glucose levels. Others may experience a slow and steady improvement of glucose control. Some may have temporary high glucose levels. Our experience is that this is transient and most people will improve.
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.
On a personal note, I always encourage full disclosure of a history of diabetes, even if currently diet controlled. Although a glucose level may now be within normal range, certain medical treatments/medications/illnesses may trigger a hyperglycemic (high blood glucose) level. The fully informed medical provider will closely monitor these patients and prevent uncontrolled glucose spikes from occurring.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best herbs that lower blood sugar, along with a few spices thrown in, to give you a more comprehensive list. Please note that while we normally do not use animal studies to support any dietary supplement, several herbs like garlic and ginger are considered ‘food’ and so, are used traditionally by cultures across the world in their daily diet for their additional medical benefits. So human lab research studies on these are not always available. You can check all available studies under ‘References’ at the end of the article.
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and started with a nutritionist two years ago. I was losing weight (20 lbs) and doing well on her prescribes diet. She reviewed my food log and comment that I was cutting down too low on my carbs. She said that it would damage my kidneys. I was concerned and slightly increased my carbs — which led to cravings and weight gain. Why was that the advice given? It failed.
Jump up ^ Qaseem A, Vijan S, Snow V, Cross JT, Weiss KB, Owens DK; Vijan; Snow; Cross; Weiss; Owens; Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians (September 2007). "Glycemic control and type 2 diabetes mellitus: the optimal hemoglobin A1c targets. A guidance statement from the American College of Physicians". Annals of Internal Medicine. 147 (6): 417–22. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-147-6-200709180-00012. PMID 17876024. Retrieved 19 July 2008.
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.
Mango tree leaves have been found to possess medicinal values to lower down the levels of blood glucose. Soak around 30 grams of fresh and clean mango tree leaves in around half a liter of water overnight. Squeeze the leaves in water to make a concoction.Consume this mixture empty stomach in the morning. It is an effective remedy to control beginning diabetes. One can also dry some mango leaves in shade and prepare its powder to be taken twice a day with water.
Swift urges RDs to be informed and stay up-to-date as complementary and alternative medicine data evolves. Use a “whole systems, whole person” approach to health and healing. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a good place to start. “They have an outstanding program on diabetes care that’s multidisciplinary and integrative,” Swift says. You also can receive continuing education credits for attending.
To help patients learn to manage their diabetes successfully, the Diabetes Treatment Center at Desert Springs Hospital offers educational classes, as well as individualized appointments, (in both English and Spanish) on topics such as behavior change, goal setting, healthy eating concepts, carbohydrate counting, dining out, label reading, lipid, medication, stress and sick day management, benefits of exercise, prevention of complications and foot care. Special Gestational Diabetes Education classes are also available for women diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy. Learn more about the Diabetes Care Education Series >
The essential feature of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes is that our bodies are completely filled with sugar. It’s not just too much sugar in the blood. That’s only part of the problem. There’s too much sugar in our entire body. 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.
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.
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.
Many manufacturers offer pen delivery systems. Such systems resemble the ink cartridge in a fountain pen. A small, pen-sized device holds an insulin cartridge (usually containing 300 units). Cartridges are available for the most widely used insulin formulations. The amount of insulin to be injected is dialed in, by turning the bottom of the pen until the required number of units is seen in the dose-viewing window. The tip of the pen consists of a needle that is replaced with each injection. A release mechanism allows the needle to penetrate just under the skin and deliver the required amount of insulin.