Alternative, Complementary Therapies For Diabetes

By John E. Hahn, DPM, ND

Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the United States, with 15.7 million Americans afflicted with the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and the primary cause of blindness in people (due to diabetic retinopathy) between the ages of 20 and 70.1
Many people have Type 2 diabetes and are completely unaware of it. Ninety percent of diabetics have non-insulin dependent diabetes. Type 2 diabetes usually begins in later years, but it is now becoming more common in young people. Risk factors for developing class="checkity">diabetes type 2 include increased body weight, race, age, lack of exercise and heredity. It is much more common among American Indians, African-Americans, Latinos and American Asians than in Caucasians.
Podiatrists can make some basic nutritional recommendations to their diabetic patients. According to the literature, these recommendations can help to improve blood glucose control and reduce glycosylation. Researchers found that glycosylation is responsible for long-term effects of diabetes. Specifically, excessive glycosylation has many adverse effects in activation of enzymes, inhibition of regulatory molecule binding, cross-linking of glycosylated proteins and disruption of many cell functions.2
Indeed, dietary and nutriceutical recommendations can help diabetes patients control their blood sugar and insulin level, as well as helping to prevent pedal vascular disease. Some dietary recommendations that have proven to be effective in modifying blood glucose levels are increasing complex carbohydrates in the diet to 60 to 70 percent of the caloric intake and decreasing fat in the diet to 20 percent.3
Another recommendation is decreasing the consumption of sucrose and other simple carbohydrates and increasing consumption of complex carbohydrates with low glycemic indexes, especially legumes. Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that when the glycemic index of carbohydrates were lowered to between 38 and 54, the glycosylated hemoglobin dropped by 9 percent and the fructosamine levels decreased by 8 percent.4
Studies showed chromium polyniacinate taken in the dosage of 400 to 600 micrograms per day improved insulin efficiency, which lowers blood sugar levels.5 L-Carnitine, an amino acid, taken twice a day at a dosage of 500 mg on an empty stomach, has been shown in studies to decrease ketones and LDL cholesterol in the body and improve circulation.6
Vanadium, taken in a dosage of 100 to 150 mg per day, has shown a dramatic affect on blood sugar levels. It works like an oral insulin and makes the cells more receptive to insulin by activating the insulin receptor sites at the cell level.7
Gymna Sylvestre, taken in a dose of 1,500 mg a day, has been shown to modify the rise in blood sugars postprandially. This plant extract is a native to the tropical forests of India and has historically been used as a treatment for diabetes for decades.8
Bitter melon, at a dosage of 125 mg per day, contains several confirmed anti-diabetic agents. Studies show that charantin and Polypeptide-P have a blood glucose lowering action.9 Fenugreek seeds have been shown in studies to reduce potassium blood sugar levels and improve glucose tolerance.10
When you are treating a diabetic patient who has ulcers that tend to exhibit poor wound healing, you may recommend zinc supplements at 70 mg three times per day with meals. Zinc is also involved in the synthesis, secretion and utilization of insulin.
Vitamin C for vascular fragility should be augmented at 500 mg to 1 gram per day. Vitamin C also has been shown to reduce glycosylation.12 Also keep in mind that the combination of Thiamin B-1 (50 mg per day) and vitamin B-6 (50 mg per day) has been shown to reduce the effect of painful neuropathy.13
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