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type 2 diabetes

  • I'm a foodie and would never want to give up traditional desserts and pasta, bagels and muffins. That said, if my blood sugar was elevated I would be highly motivated to alter my diet and try natural remedies before prescription drugs or shots. Twenty nine million people in the United States now have Type 2 diabetes and one in three adults have pre-diabetes, blood sugar levels higher than "normal," but not quite high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Having pre-diabetes puts you on the fast track to getting full-blown Type 2 diabetes within five years. Complications include severe nerve pain, heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, stroke, or amputation of the toes, feet, or legs.

    We know that meal choices matter. We also know that exercising works. The big deal is how low thyroid is the number one missed cause for diabetes. I discuss that in my book, Diabetes Without Drugs. As a pharmacist, I'm aware of the side effects and interactions associated with medications, so today I'm going to spotlight berberine.

    Berberine is a compound that scientists extract from the Oregon Grape plant which is the state flower for Oregon in the United States. It grows beautiful yellow flowers and blue grapes (but not the kind of grapes you are thinking of, these are different).

    Medicinal uses of berberine have been documented in China since 3000 BC. More recently, there are scientific papers to show all kinds of cool things! Like how berberine lowers blood glucose (sugar) as effectively as metformin, a popular prescription medicine for diabetes. Doesn't that just blow your mind?! Berberine is just as effective as this strong medicine, but without as many side effects. That gets my attention. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2008 found that berberine caused a significant reduction in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and improved cholesterol ratios. In this particular study, 1,000 mg was administered as the total daily dose. Another study (animal) suggests that berberine can prevent pre-diabetes from developing.

    What else you wonder? Berberine kills herpes simplex virus (HSV) which is often treated with the prescription drug acyclovir. Berberine protects neurons in your brain and reduces inflammation, so it helps with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Amazingly, when combined with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, berberine displays strong anti-cancer effects against ovarian cancer cells.

    Berberine is completely natural and sold nationwide as a dietary supplement. Most naturopaths recommend 500 mg once, twice or even three times daily. The dosage varies greatly so you should consult a trained professional. Use and dosage depends on your medical history, liver function and the condition for which you are taking it. Keep in mind, berberine is a natural blood thinner. It also enhances the effects of diabetic medications, possibly to your detriment if you blood sugar drops rapidly. It's definitely not recommended if you are pregnant since it's a uterine stimulant. Physicians often underestimate herbs but as far as I'm concerned, plants are medicine too.

  • Diabetes is Optional by Jacob Teitelbaum MD

    Diabetes is an increasingly common problem. It bears noting that in countries with non-westernized diets, diabetes is essentially unheard of—until the diet changes to high sugar and low fiber. Because of this, diabetes is largely a disease caused by our "modern" diet. Shockingly, it is now estimated that one third of adults will get adult onset diabetes. But again, that it used to be rare tells us that Diabetes Is Optional! In addition, over 10 studies have shown that a remarkable new herb, called Hintonia Latiflora (available in the US as Sucontral DTM by EuroPharma) has been shown to be remarkably effective. More on this below.

    What Is Diabetes

    Our bodies make sugar as a fuel for our cell's energy furnaces. It releases it at constant low levels. Releasing too much at once is like flooding the engine in your car with too much gas. It makes it stall out.

    For most of human history, we have had a high-fiber diet. This resulted in the carbohydrates and sugars in our diet being released very slowly and steadily into the bloodstream over many hours. Now we have almost 140 pounds of sugar per person per year being added into our diet in food processing. This represents 18 percent of our calories, causing massive spikes in blood sugar. This forces our bodies to prevent sugar from entering the cells too quickly. This change is called "insulin resistance."

    Insulin is the key that opens our cell furnaces so the sugar can get in to be burned for energy. When your cells become deaf to the insulin, the sugar builds up in your bloodstream instead. Meanwhile, the sugar can't get into the cell to be burned for fuel and your cells are starving.

    This is what occurs with insulin resistance. Meanwhile, your cells send out the message that they are energy starved, causing the body to make more sugar and more insulin. These high insulin levels, then proceed to turn the sugar into fat, causing you to pack on the pounds and become even more insulin resistant (thus the abdominal spare tire). The cycle continues until your body can no longer compensate and your blood sugar goes up. At that point you have developed diabetes, and your doctor will usually offer you whatever the newest, most profitable, and sadly often toxic medication the drug companies are marketing to them.

    Why The Diabetes Epidemic?
    Several factors are creating a perfect storm for diabetes developing. These include:

    1. Excess sugar and white flour in the diet combined with low fiber.
    2. Vitamin D deficiency, especially from the misguided advice to avoid sunshine. Sunshine makes vitamin D in our body. Low vitamin D is associated with not only diabetes, but also markedly increased risk for autoimmune illness, pain, hypertension, and other problems.
    3. The obesity epidemic.
    4. Decreased exercise.
    5. Numerous chemicals in our environment, which block testosterone in men and increase testosterone in women.

    Inadequate testosterone levels in men (imho anything under 500 ng/dl– research shows the "normal range" is to be an absurdity) have been shown to cause metabolic syndrome. This is a combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and either diabetes or prediabetes. When you see a 'spare tire' developing on a gentleman's abdomen, this is often the culprit. In women, the elevated testosterone is often associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), acne, facial hair growth, and even infertility. Metabolic syndrome improves with the treatments discussed below as well.

    Testing
    To screen for prediabetes, I will check a fasting insulin level. Ignore the normal range. If the fasting insulin is over 10 uIU/ ml, you should take measures now for prevention. Also check a glycosylated hemoglobin (HgBA1C). If it is over 5.8 percent, you may be developing prediabetes

    Diabetes Is Optional

    In fact, this is the title of my newest book, now available on Amazon. It discusses the treatments below in-depth. Begin with simple things that help optimize blood sugar levels in your body. These include:

    An Ounce Of Prevention—helping your body maintain healthy blood sugar regulation is:

    1. Take a good multivitamin high in magnesium and vitamin D. My favorites are the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder, or Clinical Essentials.
    2. Cut back sugar intake. This doesn't mean you can't indulge your sweet tooth. In fact, chocolate in moderation is a health food. Begin by cutting out sodas and fruit juices, both of which have 3/4 teaspoon of sugar per ounce. This translates to 36 spoons of sugar in that 48 ounce "Big Burp" soda. Enjoy the whole fruit instead. Meanwhile, look at the nutritional label, and divide grams of sugar by four to see how many teaspoons of sugar are in a serving.
    3. Go for walks in the sunshine. Or find other exercise, preferably outside, that you love.
    4. Lose weight. This will be easier once you do the rest of the program and your insulin sensitivity improves. Research has shown that with adequate weight loss, diabetes actually goes away in 86 percent of diabetics.
    5. Optimize testosterone levels in men. I will use bioidentical testosterone to bring the total testosterone up to about 900 ng/dl. In women, I would use the treatments discussed, along with the medications metformin and Aldactone to lower elevated testosterone.

    Treating Diabetes

    For childhood diabetes, which is a totally different autoimmune illness, insulin is a lifesaving and necessary treatment. For adult diabetics, it is a loan shark, which initially lowers blood sugar.

    But because it often causes massive weight gain, it can worsen the diabetes in the long-term. So it may be necessary short-term, but it is not a good overall solution.

    In my 40 years as a physician, I have found that most diabetes medications turn out to cause more harm and deaths than benefit. But routinely, physicians are not taught about the research on the drug's toxicity until after the patent runs out and it is no longer profitable. Then the drug companies are off teaching them about the newest, most money-making, diabetes medication.

    I don't fault the drug companies for this. They are actually very nice people doing their job. Which is to make money. It is the physician's job to be able to distinguish between what is real and truthful as opposed to slick advertising masquerading as science. But sadly, though exhorted to do so even by the past editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, they don't realize the difference.

    There is one medication that is an exception. It is an excellent medication called metformin, which is low cost and has withstood the test of time. It is highly effective, and well-tolerated. Its main toxicity is that it will sometimes cause nausea or diarrhea (lower the dose) and will routinely cause vitamin B12 deficiency unless someone is taking a multivitamin.

    Hintonia Latiflora To The Rescue

    From the high mountains of Central and South America, there is an amazing herb that can help lower blood sugars. This miracle botanical is an extract of the bark of a shrubby tree that grows in the Sonoran Desert. It's been studied in detail for its ability to reverse high blood sugars for over 60 years. It has only recently become available to the North American public in a product called Sucontral-D.

    There have been over a dozen studies showing how powerfully effective hintonia is!

    How Does Hintonia Latiflora (Sucontral D) Work?
    First, it is a rich source of a special family of flavonoids, called Coutareagenin. This polyphenol nutrient found in bark extracts unique to hintonia and appears to be responsible for many of its blood-sugar controlling benefits.

    Mexican researchers also found that plant is an inhibitor of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which then slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the food, mimicking the effect of a high-fiber diet.

    What Does The Hintonia Research Show?
    Solid research in numerous studies shows that not only can hintonia help control blood sugar and overcome insulin resistance, reducing your need for pharmaceuticals. It can also enhance the effectiveness of diabetes medications if your doctor and you decide that you need them.

    For example, in a study published in the German journal Naturheilpraxis mit Naturalmedizin (Naturopathic Practice with Natural Medicine), Hintonia latiflora significantly lowered HgBA1C values (average levels of blood sugar), fasting glucose levels (blood sugar before a meal) and postprandial (after eating) blood sugar levels.

    Fasting and after meal blood glucose numbers, along with A1C levels, are important because they show how much sugar circulates through your system and how your body deals with it after meals. What the research showed was amazing! Fasting and post-meal blood sugars improved by an impressive 23 and 24 percent respectively with hintonia. And glycosylated hemoglobin decreased by a remarkable average of 0.8 points (about 11 percent)! This means many people went from being diabetic to no longer being diabetic.

    Impressively, by the end of the study 39 percent of those using anti-diabetes drugs could reduce their medication levels. Some were able to stop their medication entirely.

    But there is more good news. Hintonia not only lowered blood sugar and often reversed diabetes. It also eliminates many of the symptoms of diabetes an impressive 73 percent over time. This is a massive change that can dramatically increase your quality of life, and well-being.

    Participants also saw improvements in blood pressure, lipids, and liver values.

    People with diabetes struggle with blood sugars that spike and plummet during the day and night. As this occurs, your energy, pain and mental clarity may find themselves on a roller coaster as well. One of hintonia's greatest benefits is that it helps keep those sugars steady throughout the day and night, making life easier and contributing to long-term better glucose control.

    The president of the International Diabetes Foundation was the lead author on another study that strongly recommended the use of this unique herb in treating and preventing Type 2 diabetes. Not only because of improved blood sugar control, but also because of its effectiveness in lowering cholesterol and other elements of metabolic syndrome that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

    So the bottom line? Diabetes is optional!

  • There are two primary types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Both types result in high levels of blood sugar levels, which may manifest itself through any of the following symptoms: increased thirst and an increased need to urinate; feeling edgy, tired, and sick to your stomach; and having an increased appetite (but a loss of weight). In addition, other symptoms may include: repeated or hard-to-heal infections of the skin, gums, vagina, or bladder; blurred vision; tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet; and dry, itchy skin. If left uncontrolled, high blood sugar may result in a variety of serious complications.

    Glycosylated Protein
    Many of these complications are the result of glycosylated protein (GP). GP simply means that sugar (glucose) has attached itself to protein. For example, blood sugar can attach itself to the protein in your red blood cells’ hemoglobin and form glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). Virtually all proteins are glycosylated to some degree. However, if this process continues to excess, eventually you end up with compounds called Advanced Glycosylation End Products (AGE). These AGE become permanent fixtures in our cells. AGE impregnated cells are very reactive and react with one another, and other proteins. In the case of blood capillaries, they can result in the walls of the capillaries thickening, eventually causing the vessels to be blocked off. This is the underlying cause of kidney complications (nephropathy) and eye complications (retinopathy). Unfortunately, the more blood sugar, the more glycosylated proteins.

    Sorbitol
    Another mechanism by which complications in diabetes result is excessive cellular sorbitol (a type of sugar-alcohol). Many cells in the body do not rely on insulin for glucose uptake. When you have hyperglycemia, you actually get high sugar levels inside these cells, which cause sorbitol to be produced in high concentrations. Intracellular sorbitol disrupts the pressure balance between the inside and outside of the cell, causing water to enter. This swelling of nerve cells is what is believed to be, at least in part, responsible for the nerve damage (neuropathy) caused by diabetes. (This does not mean that if you consume sorbitol in foods that it will have the same effect—it won’t.)

    Type 1 Diabetes
    Type 1, immune-mediated diabetes (formerly called insulin-dependent diabetes), is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. In type 1 diabetes your body destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, usually leading to a total failure to produce insulin. It typically starts in children or young adults who are slim, but can start at any age. Without insulin, your body cannot control blood levels of sugar. And without insulin, you would die. So people with type 1 diabetes give themselves at least one shot of insulin every day. An estimated 500,000 to one million Americans have this type of diabetes today. Conventional medical treatment for type 1 diabetes includes insulin injections, and diet regulation.

    Type 2 Diabetes
    Type 2 diabetes used to be called non-insulin-dependent diabetes. The most common type of diabetes, it affects about 15 million Americans. Nine out of ten cases of diabetes are type 2. It usually occurs in people over 45 and overweight, among other factors. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin—or your body still makes insulin but can’t properly use it. Without enough insulin, your body cannot move blood sugar into the cells. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Conventional medical treatment for type 2 diabetes includes any of the following, alone or in combination: insulin injections, oral drugs, or diet alone.

    Following is a discussion about dietary supplements that may help diabetics to gain greater control over their blood sugar levels, reduce the long-term detrimental effects of high blood sugar levels, or both.

    Chromium
    Chromium levels can be below normal in patients with diabetes.1,2 In a randomized, placebo-controlled study3, 180 men and women with type 2 diabetes were divided into three groups and supplemented with: 1) placebo, 2) 200 mcg chromium daily, or 3) 1,000 mcg chromium daily (from chromium picolinate for both doses). Subjects continued to take their normal medications and were instructed not to change their normal eating and living habits. The results were that both doses of supplemental chromium had significant beneficial effects on HbA1c, glucose, insulin, and cholesterol variables, although the benefits were greater with the higher dose.

    Other studies show that taking chromium picolinate orally can decrease fasting blood glucose, decrease HbA1c levels, decrease triglyceride levels, and increase insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.4,5 Some evidence also suggests that chromium picolinate might decrease weight gain and fat accumulation in type 2 diabetes patients who are taking a sulfonylurea.6 Higher chromium doses (1,000 mcg) might be more effective and work more quickly.7 Higher doses might also reduce triglyceride and total serum cholesterol levels in some patients.8,9 Additional research demonstrated that chromium picolinate might have the same benefits in patients with type 1 diabetes10 and in patients who have diabetes secondary to corticosteroid use.11

    Banaba
    Banaba is the common name for Lagerstroemia speciosa, a traditional herbal medicine used among diabetics in the Philippines.12 Research done on Banaba extract has demonstrated that it has an “insulin-like principle” as well as an ability to reduce blood sugar. At least one component of this insulin-like principle is thought to be corosolic acid, although Banaba also contains other like candidates including ellagitannins, lagerstroemin, flosin B, reginin A. As a matter of fact, a recent study identified ellagitannins from Banaba as activators of glucose transport.13

    One of the Banaba studies was conducted on hereditary diabetic mice. The results showed blood sugar increases were suppressed, and the level of serum insulin and the amount of urinary excreted glucose were also lowered in mice fed Banaba extract. The researchers suggested Banaba extract has beneficial effects on control of blood levels of glucose in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.14

    Twelve diabetic subjects taking 48 mg of the Banaba extract were tested in a randomized, double-blind crossover study. This study confirmed that a Banaba extract promotes normal blood glucose metabolism in people with type 2 diabetes, and also showed that Banaba extract’s benefits were sustained for several weeks even after discontinuation of the supplement.15

    Another crossover, placebo-controlled clinical study with 24 subjects found similar results. Specifically, Banaba extract was effective in reducing blood glucose levels even in short-term (4 weeks) treatment, with no signs of adverse effects. Furthermore, even a one-time dose leaves a memory-effect for blood glucose control. Compared to the placebo group, a statistically significant drop in the average blood glucose level is observed with the administration of Banaba extract.16

    Gymnema Sylvestre
    Animal studies have demonstrated that the herb Gymnema sylvestre is capable of lowering blood glucose levels, improving glucose utilization, and increasing insulin levels in diabetes.17,18,19,20

    The latter benefit was found to be a function of Gymnema’s apparent ability to repair/regenerate beta cells, the parts of the pancreas responsible for producing insulin.21

    Of greater significance to diabetic patients is the research conducted on humans. In one study, 22 type 2 diabetic patients received Gymnema for 18–20 months, as a supplement to the conventional oral drugs. During Gymnema supplementation, the patients showed a significant reduction in blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, and glycosylated blood proteins; and conventional drug dosage could be decreased. As a matter of fact, five of the 22 diabetic patients were able to discontinue their conventional drug and maintain their blood glucose homeostasis with Gymnema alone. The researchers concluded, “These data suggest that the beta cells may be regenerated/repaired in type 2 diabetic patients on [Gymnema] supplementation. This is supported by the appearance of raised insulin levels in the serum of patients after [Gymnema] supplementation.”22

    In a similar study, Gymnema was administered to 27 patients with type 1 diabetes, who were also on insulin therapy. The results were that insulin requirements came down together with blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin and glycosylated blood protein levels. Blood fats also returned to near normal levels with Gymnema therapy. Type 1 diabetic patients who were just on insulin therapy (no Gymnema), showed no significant reduction in serum lipids, glycosylated hemoglobin or glycosylated blood protein when followed up after 10–12 months. The researchers of this study concluded, “Gymnema therapy appears to enhance endogenous insulin, possibly by regeneration/revitalization of the residual beta cells in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.23

    Bitter Melon
    Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is a tropical vegetable widely cultivated in Asia, Africa and South America, and has been used extensively in traditional folk medicine as a remedy for diabetes. This traditional use has also been validated by clinical research. In one study, Bitter melon was found to significantly improve the glucose tolerance of 73 percent of patients with adult-onset diabetes (type 2).24 During another study, Bitter Melon significantly reduced blood glucose concentrations during a glucose tolerance test in type 2 diabetics.25 Other research has identified the protein component of Bitter Melon that have the blood sugar lowering effects, and those researchers have stated that it is very effective for that purpose when administered to “gerbils, langurs, and humans.”26

    Alpha Lipoic Acid
    A significant amount of research has been conducted on the natural antioxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) in the treatment of diabetes. In one study, seventy-four patients with type-2 diabetes were given either a placebo or ALA. When compared to the placebo group, those receiving the ALA had significantly greater insulin-sensitivity and improvement in insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. The researchers logically concluded, “The results suggest that oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid can improve insulin sensitivity in patients with type-2 diabetes.”27 Another benefit of ALA use in diabetics has to do with diabetic neuropathy. In one study on type 2 diabetics, ALA treatment was associated with “a favorable effect on neuropathic deficits without causing significant adverse reactions.”28 In another two-year study, ALA “appeared to have a beneficial effect on several attributes of nerve conduction” in a group of type 2 diabetic patients.29 Additional research on diabetics has shown that ALA has been able to improve other aspects of diabetic neuropathy, 30,31 including improvements in neuropathy symptoms.32,33,34

    Another important consideration is that oxidative stress caused by free radicals can exacerbate the diabetic condition. Research provides evidence that, in type 2 diabetics, treatment with ALA significantly improves antioxidant defense35—even in patients with poor blood sugar control and albuminuria (i.e., too many serum proteins in the urine).36

    Finally, one of the most important benefits offered to diabetics by ALA is the fact that it has been shown to enhance the disposal of blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes, which gives it great potential as a blood sugar lowering agent.37 In a related study of lean and obese diabetic patients treated with ALA, the ALA prevented increases in metabolites that are typically associated with high blood sugar, and also increased blood sugar effectiveness.38

    Co-enzyme Q10
    Research has shown that some diabetic patients who use diet to control their blood sugar may have a deficiency of Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which may be further exacerbated by certain commonly used antidiabetic drugs. Such a deficiency of CoQ10 in the pancreas could impair aspects of energy metabolism, and the biosynthesis of insulin. Other research has also demonstrated that CoQ10 levels are lower in diabetic patients, which can cause diabetic cardiomyopathy. That same research, however, also showed that the diabetic cardiomyopathy can also be reversed by CoQ10 supplementation.40 And speaking of a cardiac condition, research has also demonstrated that CoQ10 exhibits an effective antiarrhythmic (i.e., prevents abnormal heart beat) in patients with diabetes.41

    A newly discovered form of diabetes is referred to as maternally inherited diabetes mellitus and deafness (MIDD). The characteristic clinical features of MIDD are the progressive worsening of insulin secretion and, as the name would suggest, neurosensory deafness and maternal inheritance. After three years of treatment with CoQ10 therapy on MIDD patients, progressive hearing loss was prevented and blood sugar metabolites improved after exercise. Furthermore, there were no side effects during therapy.42

    Bilberry
    One clinician/researcher had this to say about Bilberry (a European relative of the American Blueberry): “Perhaps the most significant clinical applications for bilberry extracts are in the field of ophthalmology.” The health of the eye depends on a rich supply of nutrients and oxygen, and, “Relatively speaking, the amount of blood blow through the eye is the greatest in the body.” Bilberry appears to support vision by improving the delivery of oxygen and blood, “as well as exerting other important pharmacological effects,” including acting as an antioxidant. Among other benefits, Bilberry has proven effective in treating or preventing diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. Bilberry’s strengthening effect on collagen may explain its benefit in helping to treat diabetic retinopathy. It also effectively regulates blood sugar levels in diabetic subjects.43

    Inositol
    An altered metabolism of inositol, a natural substance associated with the B complex group of vitamins, has been documented in patients with diabetes.44 In fact, over 20 years ago, researchers found that high blood sugar levels in diabetes “may condition a widespread relative intracellular inositol deficiency, and suggest that restoration of normal intracellular inositol concentrations might prove to be of benefit in the prevention and treatment of certain of the complications associated with human diabetes mellitus.”45 As it turned out, supplementation with inositol has indeed proven beneficial for diabetics. For example, low levels of inositol have been associated with neuropathy in diabetic patients, 46and inositol supplementation has been demonstrated to be effective in treating diabetic neuropathy.47 Another benefit is that supplementation with inositol can help prevent the premature aging of certain cells in the diabetic which is caused by elevated concentrations of blood sugar.48 Other research suggests that inositol may exert a protective effect on slowly developing diabetic cataracts.49

    Finally, consider that the incidence of major congenital malformations is approximately 6–9 percent in pregnancies complicated by diabetes mellitus. This incidence is 3–4-fold higher than that in the general population. Congenital malformations are now ranked as the leading cause of death in the offspring of women with diabetes. This particular type of congenital malformation in the offspring of diabetic women is referred to as diabetic embryopathy. Dietary supplementation of inositol has been shown to reduce the incidence of diabetes-related malformations in offspring of diabetic pregnant animals.50 Researchers have indicated that supplementation with inositol offers great promise, in addition to blood sugar control, as a dietary preventive measure against diabetic embryopathy.51

    A Word Of Caution
    If you are diabetic and controlled on medication, make your health professional aware of any changes you intend to make in your lifestyle. Diet, exercise, and supplements may affect your blood sugar levels. Make your doctor a participant in any changes you would like to make in your health management. This will assure that you are being properly monitored and that you will keep yourself out of trouble.

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