A Whole-Person Approach to Managing Diabetes
by Dave HamiltonDiabetes is commonly simplified as a genetic or biochemical malfunction, but lifestyle, diet, length of time diagnosed and what medications or supplements patients are taking are all important factors. There are three pillars to health: the physical, the mental/emotional and the spiritual. When one or more of these pillars is off balance, then our health is off balance. Diabetes can be treated using food, supplementary nutrients and supportive herbs. Some people do very well on a low-glycemic diet, while others have reversed their diabetes by choosing a plant-based or raw food diet. The correct decision depends on individual digestion, blood type and stress level.
There are many herbs, amino acids and nutrients that can be included in a treatment, depending on the individuals needs. Here is a small taste of what Mother Earth has to offer to balance our lives.
Gymnema sylvestre is an interesting herb, as it will inhibit the taste buds from receiving the signal to taste ‘sweet’. This can help curb cravings, improve pancreatic function and reduce blood glucose levels. Recent research also shows that it can affect the beta cells within the pancreas, enhancing insulin production.
Momordica charantia, or bitter melon, is a traditional food in Indian cuisine. The fruit has a hypoglycemic activity in humans with blood sugar issues. Bitter melon contains an insulin-like polypeptide called polypeptide P, plant insulin, or p-insulin. It has pharmacologic effects similar to bovine insulin, with an onset of action between 30 and 60 minutes and a peak effect at about four hours.
Cinnamomum cassia, or cinnamon, has been shown to significantly help patients with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition. It appears to help control and normalize the glucose levels of diabetics that have an inability to respond to insulin. There are two major compounds that mimic insulin: methylhydroxy chalcone polymer and polyphenols which can help reduce blood glucose levels. This action has been seen in a variety of double blind studies in Type 2 diabetes.
Panax quinquefolius, or American ginseng, stabilizes postprandial glycemia after meals, suggesting that the intake of ginseng may also benefit healthy individuals. It is also shown to improve hyperlipidemia and cellular energy (ATP) production in diabetic and non-diabetic patients. Other studies suggest it reduces oxidative stress within pancreatic beta cells and muscle cells.
Ocinum sanctum, or holy basil, is a popular tea or extract and can be found almost any grocery or health food store. It is very grounding and a delicious way to improve insulin sensitivity. A 2012 study from the International Journal of Life Science and Pharma Research showed that daily consumption of Ocinum sanctum tea or tincture was able to reduce HgA1c by 0.5 to 1 point in 60 days. (HgA1c is the most reliable lab result to determine if someone is diabetic).
Dave Hamilton, ND, is the owner of Of The Earth Wellness, located at 10715 Shopton Rd. W., in Charlotte. For more information, call 980-272-1897 or visit OfTheEarthWellness.com.