But is John “free of diabetes”? This is where the lines become blurred. Medically speaking, the term “cure” is usually associated with acute disease—a temporary medical condition, such as bacterial pneumonia, that can be cured with antibiotics. For diabetes, which is a chronic disease, it may be more accurate to use the term “remission” rather than cure. Particularly when considering the pathology associated with diabetes and the individual’s genetic predisposition, relapse is always possible. In a consensus statement issued by the ADA, the term remission is defined based on the following definitions:2
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..
A: Fasting plasma glucose and weight change 2 years after randomization either to gastric banding or to intensive medical therapy for weight loss and glucose control. Data plotted with permission from Dixon et al. (13). B: Early changes in fasting plasma glucose level following pancreatoduodenal bypass surgery. A decrease into the normal range was seen within 7 days. Reproduced with permission from Taylor (98).
Carbohydrate Spike Test-On one day of your blood sugar readings (after at least 2-3 days of testing) eat a food high in simple carbs at your test meal (a potato, rice, etc) along with any vegetables, but in the absence of any fats or proteins. This will test your basic glucose reaction to high levels of glucose not mitigated by fat. Record these numbers as usual. Important note: if you usually eat a low-carbohydrate diet, this number might seem higher than it should be. This is because of decreased tolerance to carbohydrates and is not a cause for concern.
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.
The bottom line is that diabetes can be bad news—but this doesn’t have to be the case. Interventions can prevent or delay the disease in people with prediabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large study of people at high risk of diabetes, has established a prevention plan that’s both feasible and cost-effective. The DPP showed that weight loss and increased physical activity reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58% during a three-year period.
The U.S. government’s study of the Diabetes Prevention Program found that in 3,000 people who had prediabetes, those who lost 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight reduced their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. The numbers were even more impressive in those over age 60. All study participants were overweight and had high blood sugar.
According to studies, cinnamon may have a positive effect on the glycemic control and the lipid profile in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2. This is because it contains 18% polyphenol content in dry weight. This popular Indian spice can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control. According to a study published in Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine, “cinnamon lowered HbA1C by 0.83% compared with standard medication alone lowering HbA1C 0.37%. Taking cinnamon could be useful for lowering serum HbA1C in type 2 diabetics with HbA1C >7.0 in addition to usual care.”
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 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, defines complementary and alternative medicine as a "group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine." Complementary medicine is used with conventional treatments, whereas alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.
There was a clinical trial conducted at Department of Biochemistry, Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences Madras, India that studied 22 patients with type 2 diabetes. It reported that supplementing the body with 400 mg of Gymnema Sylvestre extract daily resulted in remarkable reductions in blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c and glycosylated plasma protein levels. What’s even more remarkable is that by the end of this 18 month study, participants were able to reduce the dosage of their prescription diabetes medication. Five were even completely off medication and attaining stable blood sugar levels with Gymnema Sylvestre supplementation alone.
Several types of plants are referred to as ginseng, but most studies have used American ginseng. They've shown some sugar-lowering effects in fasting and after-meal blood sugar levels, as well as in A1c results (average blood sugar levels over a 3-month period). But we need larger and more long-term studies. Researchers also found that the amount of sugar-lowering compound in ginseng plants varies widely.
A study published in 2014 by the Second University of Naples showed that a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet was able to achieve significant rates of remission in people with type 2 diabetes. After one year of following the diet, 15% of participants achieved remission and, after six years, 5% had achieved remission on the diet – a stunning achievement.
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.
The NIDDK has played an important role in developing “artificial pancreas” technology. An artificial pancreas replaces manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots or a pump. A single system monitors blood glucose levels around the clock and provides insulin or a combination of insulin and a second hormone, glucagon, automatically. The system can also be monitored remotely, for example by parents or medical staff.
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.
Known for its immune-boosting and disease-fighting benefits, this Chinese herb has several positive diabetes studies behind it. Researchers have found that ginseng slows carbohydrate absorption; increases cells’ ability to use glucose; and increases insulin secretion from the pancreas. A team from the University of Toronto has repeatedly demonstrated that ginseng capsules lower blood glucose 15 to 20 percent compared to placebo pills. These are the best superfoods for people with diabetes.
Normally, the process goes like this: The carbohydrates from your food are converted into a form of sugar called glucose. Glucose is the preferred fuel for your body's cells, and it's the only food your brain can use. The glucose floats along in the bloodstream until the pancreas, a large gland located behind the stomach, goes into action. The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that signals body cells to take in the glucose. Once inside the cell, the glucose is either used as fuel to produce heat or energy or is stored as fat.
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.
Dr. Mona Morstein is a naturopathic physician with a medical practice focused in integrative diabetes treatment. Her clinic, Arizona Integrative Medical Solutions, is located in Tempe, Arizona, where she sees patients of all ages and genders for acute and chronic conditions. An expert on prediabetes and diabetes, she is a frequent lecturer at conferences and webinars, and is the founder and executive director of The Low Carb Diabetes Association. Dr. Morstein is also a member of the Arizona Diabetes Coalition. Visit her website lowcarbdiabetes.org
Fig leaves are best known for treating diabetes, but there are many other uses for the fig leaves. There are many homemade remedies from treating diabetes to treating bronchitis, genital warts, liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure, skin problems and ulcers. Fig leaves are not used as much as they should be. Most of the remedies for the fig leaves use the sap or the milk of the sacred tree. Fig tinctures or poultices should be used immediately and fresh batches made daily.
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.
Another crucial element in a treatment program for diabetes is exercise. With either type of diabetes, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Exercise improves your body's use of insulin and may lower blood sugar levels. To prevent your blood sugar from falling to dangerously low levels, check your blood sugar and, if necessary, eat a carbohydrate snack about half an hour before exercising. If you start to feel symptoms of low blood sugar (called hypoglycemia), stop exercising and have a carbohydrate snack or drink. Wait 15 minutes and check again. Have another snack again if it is still too low.
Called ALA for short, this vitamin-like substance neutralizes many types of free radicals. A build-up of free radicals, caused in part by high blood sugar, can lead to nerve damage and other problems. ALA may also help muscle cells take up blood sugar. In a German study, a team of scientists had 40 adults take either an ALA supplement or a placebo. At the end of the four-week study, the ALA group had improved their insulin sensitivity 27 percent. The placebo group showed no improvement. Other studies have shown a decrease in nerve pain, numbness, and burning.
These are a relatively new class of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. They are oral medications that work by blocking the kidneys' reabsorption of glucose, leading to increased glucose excretion and reduction of blood sugar levels. The US FDA approved the SGLT2 inhibitors canagliflozin (Invokana) in March 2013 and dapagliflozin (Farxiga) in January 2014.