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Diabetes, Prediabetes and Natural Diabetes Remedies
What is Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes, or Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM), describes the complete destruction of the pancreatic β-cells which produce insulin. This is classified as an auto-immune disease and most often occurs among children and adolescents, requiring lifelong use of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes, or Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM), usually occurs after the person is 40 years of age. It is marked by an ever-increasing cellular insensitivity to insulin and has a strong correlation with diet.
Gestational diabetes is unique to pregnant women and often goes away after the baby is born. However, gestational diabetes does increase the chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Also, sometimes the diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes.
Pre-diabetes describes the state of an adult whose elevated blood sugar and insulin levels continually slide into abnormally high ranges yet remain below the diagnostic range used to identify diabetes.
Type 1.5 diabetes, or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), is an adult-onset, slow-progressing version of type 1 diabetes. In this condition the pancreas is still capable of producing insulin, but the presence of one or more autoantibodies against pancreatic beta cells leads to the slow destruction of beta cells over time. LADA has characteristics of both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes and is often misdiagnosed as other forms of diabetes, resulting in the wrong treatment.
Metabolic syndrome is a set of risk factors found to increase a person's likelihood of acquiring NIDDM, heart disease or stroke. These risk factors include increased waist circumference, blood pressure, blood glucose and/or insulin resistance, triglycerides, or decreased HDL cholesterol. People with metabolic syndrome are usually pre-diabetic.
Diabetes: A CardioVascular Disease (CVD) Risk Factor of Special Concern
Diabetes itself is a known risk factor for many aspects of CVD, including high blood pressure/hypertension, high blood cholesterol/hyperlipidemia, CHD, stroke and heart failure.
"People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than people without diabetes"!!
We have written in-depth information about multiple forms of CVD! Follow the link to learn more: Cardiovascular Disease: What are High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Disease, Why use integrative medicine to treat High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Disease, Support for patients with High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Disease.
We have written in-depth blogs on theses topics! Follow the links to learn more: "Have You Met Diabetes Type 1.5", "Diabetes Healthy Eating Tips and Strategies for the Holidays",
Why use integrative medicine
to treat Diabetes?
Persistently elevated blood sugar, as in uncontrolled diabetes, or excessive insulin, as in pre-diabetes, will generate large numbers of hazardous free radicals, which bring with them the potential for many serious complications. These include cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, loss of vision, lower-limb amputations, cancer, Alzheimer's and more.
Though pharmaceutical medications are somtimes required in severe or auto-immune induced diabetes, they are not without their share of undesirable side effects. Oral hypoglycemic agents have been associated with such adverse effects as hypoglycemia, nausea, weight gain, gastro-intestinal disturbances and liver toxicity.
What's more, herbal medicine has a long history in the treatment and prevention of diseases, including diabetes, compared to conventional medicine. And though nutritional supplements may be an important component to treatment, these alone do not address the need for a lifestyle centered, sustainable way to pro-actively reduce the risk of adverse health complications.
Why use integrative medicine to treat
Pre-diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome?
Successful management of pre-diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome can have far reaching affects on a person's life, setting the stage for their entire quality of life in years to come. Yet rates of pre-diabetes and diabetes continue to increase every year, with the CDC publishing that, as of 2022, an estimated 96 million adults ages 18 years or older (38.0% of the adult US population) have pre-diabetes! This accounts for more than 1 in 3 people among US adults as being pre-diabetic!
The decade after decade increased prevalence of these conditions shows a consistent failure by conventional medicine to adequately address what has become a global epidemic by any standards.
Naturopathic physicians that are board certified and practicing in licensed states have received four years of rigorous training and passed multiple licensing exams. This allows for a therapeutic approach that does more than just manage symptoms with pills, injections, and five to ten minute follow-ups. Rather, lifestyle considerations and education are major tenants to a successful program which seeks to vitalize a person's recovery and succeed where others have not.
Support for patients with Diabetes,
Pre-diabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome
Evidenced-based herbal medicine
Dozens of medicinal herbs have been shown in the peer-review literature to support blood glucose and insulin functioning in different ways. Some support blood glucose by acting as secretogogues to produce more insulin; others improve insulin sensitivity to the receptors on cells throughout the body. Still other medicinal herbs assist diabetes and related conditions by affecting the absorption of carbohydrates from the gastrointestinal environment by inhibiting enzymes. Then some botanical medicines work using multi-modal activities, these include some of the more well known herbs like bitter melon, fenugreek, garlic, ginseng, and holy basil, among others.
Therapeutic lifestyle modification
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." – African Proverb
The metabolic problems related to blood glucose and diabetes are complex and can have multi-faceted repercussions on our bodies, with many different organ systems affected. It is no surprise then that more has to be done than just taking pills or injections.
Enter lifestyle medicine programs which have been shown to clinically reverse blood glucose concerns, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, and obesity. These are implemented over 14 weeks. Why 14 weeks? Because social and psychological studies have shown that the median time for developing a habit is 66 days, and developing good habits is exactly what people need when focusing on what they eat, how they exercise or sleep, and stress management. We use combinations of a modified Mediterranean diet, body composition testing, and meal planning while taking a multi-faceted approach to a person. This treatment plan creates a balanced and manageable healthy lifestyle to clearly identify and overcome causes of ill health and improve total body function naturally by nourishing, balancing, and revitalizing a person's metabolic health. Our aim is to decrease body fat, increase lean muscle mass, lower fasting insulin and blood glucose levels while decreasing symptoms as fatigue, joint pain and digestive issues, among others, by unlocking the power of clinical nutrition!
Effective use of vitamins & minerals
Another way to improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels is to include daily additional nutritional supplementation. Attempting to restore balance to our bodies in the least invasive manner possible is part of the philosophic approach of naturopathic physicians. Thus we often seek to use the body's constituents to see if better health can be achieved, in this case by providing the nutrients pre-diabetics and diabetics require in increased amounts.
Exploring endocrine disruptors, environmental contaminants, and how we detoxify them
While many chemicals, both natural and man-made, may mimic or interfere with our hormones, some have become so common in our day to day lives, that they have warranted special investigation and review. Called "endocrine disruptors", these chemicals are linked with developmental, metabolic, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems in different organs and glands of the endocrine system, which is the hormone-based communication network in the body. Endocrine disruptors include bisphenol A, dioxins, perchlorate, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), phthalates, phytoestrogens, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and triclosan, among others.
As explained above, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease caused by immune-mediated pancreatic β-cell destruction. The endocrine disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has widespread human exposure and can modulate immune function and the gut microbiome, which may contribute to the increasing incidence of this worldwide. Other studies have also found higher levels of metabolites from phthalates clearly associated and higher among newly diagnosed children with type 1 diabetes, compared with controls. So exploring these avenues becomes a comprehensive way to mitigate risk.- and hopefully 'unpack' an auto-immune response.
So if you are seeking guidance, support or treatment, consider contacting our clinic at the number above.
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National Institute of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes Statistics. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics. Accessed 10-11-2022.
National Institute of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. What is Diabetes? https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes. Accessed 10-11-2022.
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Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease and Stroke. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/heart-disease-stroke.htm. Accessed 12-14-22.
The content and any recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. They are not intended to replace the advice of the reader's own licensed healthcare professional or physician and are not intended to be taken as direct diagnostic or treatment directives. Any treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and/or health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a licensed naturopathic physician.