Healing Diabetes NaturallyDr. Zoltan P. Rona, MD, M.Sc. September 1, 2008
All the Best Nutrients and Lifestyle Tips
“Avandia was recently back in the news, when it was found that Dr Steven Haffner admitted leaking information about a study linking the drug to a 43% greater risk of heart attacks. Our law firm is currently investigating claims involving the use of Avandia and death, heart attack, congestive heart failure as well as fractures in the hands and feet. If you or a loved one has taken Avandia and experienced any of the above situations, please contact our firm today.”
– From the defective drugs.com web site: www.resource4thepeople.com/defectivedrugs/avandia.html
Close to three million Canadians suffer from diabetes and most of these people use prescription drugs such as Avandia and Actos to control their blood sugar levels. But the cardiovascular side effects of these drugs have caused many of these people to seek natural alternatives. Some have also consulted lawyers to involve themselves in class action lawsuits against the manufacturers. What natural strategies work for people suffering from diabetes?
Most diabetics who seek the advice of a natural health care provider are already on prescription blood sugar lowering pills or insulin injections and are looking for ways of controlling their blood sugar levels more naturally. The good news is that this is indeed possible and well worth the effort. Regardless of the type of diabetes, improved blood sugar control is possible with the natural approach. In many cases, oral hypoglycemic agents and even insulin shots can be significantly reduced or eliminated.
Normal fasting blood sugar runs between 3.3 and 6.0 MMOL/L (millimoles per liter). Anything above that reading is referred to as diabetes mellitus. There are several types of diabetes.
Type I (Juvenile) or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) occurs most often in children and adolescents and is caused by the body’s failure to produce insulin. About 10% of all diabetics have this form of the disease and usually need insulin injections for the rest of their lives. IDDM is an autoimmune disease thought by some researchers to be linked to an allergy to cow’s milk or other unsuspected foods and by others to a virus or drug reaction.
Type II (Adult) or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) usually develops in people 40 years or older and is usually related to being overweight. Approximately 90% of all diabetics have NIDDM and insulin resistance causes their disease. This means that enough or even too much insulin is produced but the body’s cells are somehow resistant to its action. Most cases of Type II diabetes are thought to be controllable almost entirely by diet.
According to a 2004 study (1) in the British Journal of Medicine, Type II diabetes in children is on the rise and this has been associated with the expanding prevalence of childhood obesity and partly linked to consumption of soft drinks.
Gestational Diabetes is a transient form of diabetes that occurs in approximately 4% of pregnant women who go back to having normal blood sugar levels after delivery. They have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
The long-term complications of diabetes include coronary artery disease, hypertension, severe circulation problems, peripheral neuropathy, kidney failure, diabetic retinopathy (retinal disease) and loss of vision. These can all be controlled or prevented by normalizing blood sugar levels.
MOST EFFECTIVE DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Cardiovascular fitness is a very important component of any natural diabetic treatment approach. Even if you have never exercised, you can get started with a good walking program. Working out with a personal trainer may be ideal but possibly too expensive for many to entertain. Some sort of organized fitness activity is, however, within the budgets of most.
Cigarettes contain added sugar and are contaminated by fungi and their toxins. They must be eliminated because they can make blood sugar control by diet and nutritional supplements virtually impossible.
Next, eliminate all sources of simple carbohydrate and follow a low glycemic index diet (see Enter the Zone by Dr. Barry Sears or www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm). Get food allergy testing done because these can also cause blood sugar control havoc. The highest glycemic index foods are breads, cereals, pastas, starches and dairy products – which also happen to be the most common unsuspected food allergies. High glycemic index foods as well as other food allergens are rapid inducers of insulin, make blood sugar control worse, cause a greater craving for sweets and lead to greater weight gain, higher triglycerides and higher cholesterol.
Lab tests well worth doing are blood, urine and hair mineral analysis to assess the levels of both essential nutrients and toxins such as lead, cadmium, mercury and aluminum. Blood tests for hormones (thyroid, DHEA, testosterone, cortisol, progesterone, estrogen and others) are also helpful because blood sugar can be greatly affected by one’s hormone levels. According to new research, low levels of free testosterone and DHEA, in particular, are linked with greater degrees of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Consuming one or several of the following special therapeutic foods for diabetes can dramatically lower insulin requirements:
- Brewer’s Yeast: (1 Tbsp. twice daily) provides a rich source of the mineral, chromium, which has a glucose tolerance normalizing effect.
- Soybeans and other legumes: (1 cup or more daily) Kidney beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and lima beans retard the rate of absorption of carbohydrate into the blood stream.
- Onions and garlic: (1/2 a clove twice daily) normalize blood sugar regulation by decreasing the rate of insulin elimination by the liver.
- Aloe vera gel: (1/2 tsp. twice daily) stimulates the increased synthesis of insulin by the pancreas.
- Fenugreek seed: (1/2 ounce twice daily) reduces fasting and postprandial (after meal) blood sugar levels in both juvenile and adult-onset diabetics by improving cell sensitivity to insulin.
- Blueberry (bilberry) leaf tea: (1 cup twice daily) reduces high blood sugar levels through the action of the active component, myrtillin.
- Bitter melon (balsam pear): (2 ounces daily) A tropical fruit widely cultivated in Asia, Africa and South America, the juice of which contains several compounds with strong blood sugar lowering action.
- Jerusalem artichoke and asparagus: (1 – 2 cups daily) contain inulin, a soluble fiber that stabilizes blood glucose levels preventing both hyper (high) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Inulin can also be found in high concentrations in chicory, the dahlia plant, dandelion, burdock, garlic and onions.
- Other blood sugar controlling foods include: berries (especially blueberries), celery, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, sprouts, string beans, parsley, garlic, onions, psyllium, flaxseed, lemons, oat bran, radishes, sauerkraut, sunflower seeds, squash, watercress
BEST SUPPLEMENTS TO CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR
The following are the most important nutritional supplements for better blood sugar control. The doses should be adjusted according to biochemical tests (blood, urine, hair mineral analysis) and other individual needs. Monitor your blood sugar levels with a glucometer regularly and adjust drug, insulin and supplement dosages accordingly.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: (150 – 300 mg daily) to prevent peripheral neuropathy and other complications of diabetes.
- Gymnema Sylvestre: (500 mg, 3 – 4 capsules 3 times daily) An herb that lowers blood sugar by increasing insulin levels gradually.
- Banaba: (500 mg or more daily) helps lower blood sugar levels.
- Chromium picolinate, citrate or chelate: (1000 mcg. daily) An essential mineral that is an active ingredient of GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor). Chromium corrects both high and low blood sugar levels.
- Cinnamon: (6000 mg daily) improves insulin resistance and helps reduce abdominal girth.
- Siberian Ginseng: (500 – 1000 mg daily) has been shown to improve blood sugar control.
- Ginkgo biloba extract: (250 mg three times daily) improves circulation and may be very helpful for diabetic neuropathy.
- Glucommanan: (500 – 1000 mg daily) is a soluble fiber that reduces glucose levels.
- Guar gum: (500 – 1000 mg daily) is another soluble fiber that can reduce abnormally high levels of blood sugar.
- Salacia oblonga: (500 mg 3 times daily) A herb native to regions of India and Sri Lanka, binds to intestinal enzymes that break down carbohydrates in the body. These enzymes, called alpha-glucosidases, turn carbohydrates into glucose. If the enzyme binds to the herbal extract rather than to a carbohydrate, then less glucose gets into the blood stream, resulting in lowered blood glucose and insulin levels
- B complex vitamins: (100 mg or more daily) especially B1, B3, B6, B12, biotin, and folic acid because they are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates by the body.
- Multi trace mineral supplement: (3 to 6 capsules daily) especially magnesium, vanadium, manganese, zinc, copper, selenium, potassium and silicon for their effects on the pancreas and hormones that regulate blood sugar levels.
- Magnesium glycinate: (200 mg. 3 times daily) is a form of magnesium associated with a much lower risk of causing diarrhea as a side effect. Recent studies indicate a substantial improvement in insulin resistance with regular supplementation of this trace mineral.
- Antioxidant supplement: (3 to 6 capsules daily) Containing beta carotene, vitamins A, C, E, grape seed extract, alpha lipoic acid and bioflavonoids because they both help prevent high blood sugar levels as well as some of the complications of diabetes like peripheral neuropathy and retinal problems.
- Vitamin D: (4000 IU daily) unless you are getting at least half an hour of sun exposure daily because new research (14) indicates that adequate levels of vitamin D can improve insulin resistance. Ask your doctor to check your levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D to see if you need this supplement.
- Inositol hexaphosphate: (IP-6) (1000 mg 3 times daily) helps prevent and remove accumulation of fat in the liver as well as reverse peripheral neuropathy, two common complications of diabetes.
- Benfotiamine: (150 mg or more 3 times daily) A fat soluble form of vitamin B1 recently proven to help reverse diabetic polyneuropathy (pins and needles sensations in the hands and feet).
- Stevia: Good alternative sweetener for both diabetics and hypoglycemics alike.
“Drugs are not the way to control diabetes. It is the rare case where rigid application of diet and exercise will not control this problem. I can only think of a handful of patients I have treated who have not responded incredibly well to a rigid restriction of grains and an increase in their cardiovascular exercise program.”
– From Dr. Joseph Mercola’s web site: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/03/12/diabetes-drugs-warning.aspx
These natural strategies have a very high success rate in actual clinical practice. In many cases, medications can be drastically reduced or eliminated. You’ll have to work with a medical doctor or naturopath and watch your daily blood sugars regularly to make the changes. It’s all within the realm of possibility and I encourage any of you suffering from diabetes to look into these strategies soon.
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Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practises Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin. Visit his website at: http://www.highlevelwellness.ca For appointments, call (905) 764-8700; Office: 390 Steeles Ave. W. Unit 19, Thornhill, ON