How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes

Adult-Onset Diabetes Mellitus (Type II)

The name of this set of symptoms comes from the Greek; diabetes means “passing through” and mellitus means “honey.” In other words, “honey passing through,” or high levels of sugar in the urine, was what the ancient doctors first observed. The disease is characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood, which “spills over” into the urine, and is almost universally related to chronically high intake of simple carbohydrates in the diet. With 4% of the population medically diagnosed with Diabetes mellitus, it has become the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the incidence is rising. The good news is that 90% of non-insulin dependent diabetics will be cured by achieving their optimal weight and eating a balanced diet. This means no donuts!

Other theoretical causes for the defiency of insulin include viral infection of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, toxic reaction to N-nitroso compounds (found in smoked and cured meats), and auto-immune disease. The great dangers of uncontrolled diabetes include premature heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, and eventually gangrene of the lower limbs, blindness and pancreatic failure. There is a significant familial component to this disease.

Because diet is so critical to the control of this disease, nutritional approaches will be discussed first. However, there are lots of other ways to control DM (Diabetes Mellitus), including Botanical Medicine with its array of insulin-like plants, Homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and psychological approaches.

What about Nutritional Medicine? Do I have to radically change my diet?

If you like coffee and donuts for breakfast, a grilled cheese sandwich followed by a pastry treat for lunch, then pasta and cookies washed down with a soda-pop for dinner, then yes, you do have to radically change your diet. This is an extreme picture, obviously. Changing your diet is something that must be done slowly, lovingly, with great patience and persistence. Most of us are very attached to “our” foods and making changes at this fundamental level doesn’t come easily. It can be done however; and it could save your life. Be easy on yourself. Reward yourself with little treats every day, like a walk at sunset, or a bubble bath, or calling a friend long-distance. And make a plan. Starting with not keeping sugary foods in the house.

The trick to eating to control Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is basically low to no refined sugar, high complex carbohydrates and raw foods, low fat, high fiber and easy on the fruit. Refined sugar means any carbohydrate that has been processed, bleached or otherwise chemically altered. Anything made with white flour and white sugar spells trouble for the diabetic. We’re talking about cookies, cake, candy, ice-cream, pastries, pizza, boxed cereal, all soda-pops, alcohol, honey — all that good stuff. Unfortunately, most of us live life in the fast lane and this is why “fast-food” joints are a multi-billion dollar industry.

Real food, made from healthy ingredients, usually takes a little more time to prepare than the standard fare at Wendy’s or Burger King. So, one thing to adjust to is not only not eating junk food (and you know what that is…) but to creating TIME in your schedule, as a priority, to shop for fresh vegetables 2 or 3 times weekly, to eat at home more often, learn to use a steamer, don’t fry foods, never drink Coke (or any other soda-pop) and get together with others who are learning to live longer through healthy eating. Maybe you can form a dinner group in your apartment building or neighborhood.

The other critical technique to treat DM through diet is to eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. Don’t let yourself get hungry, because then, guess what? Right, you’ll grab the nearest available snack, and that is sure to be loaded with sugar or white flour. The other reason to not eat 3 “big” meals a day is to spare your pancreas. You have DM because your pancreas has a hard time producing enough insulin to keep the sugar in your blood from getting into the cells. Insulin acts as a carrier molecule for sugar across the highly selective barrier of the membrane of each and every cell in your body. Not enough insulin means the sugar builds up in the blood. And that means not enough sugar, or raw fuel, in the cells. All of you interested in DM know about “diabetic coma” where you can literally pass out, and maybe die, because of a critical shortage of fuel to the brain. The treatment, conventionally, for diabetic coma is to give insulin. But that’s a choice with grave implications. You want to do everything you can to avoid becoming dependent on insulin injections. Please believe that improving your diet is a much more pleasant alternative than having to shoot insulin before every meal.

Now, enough of what you can’t, or shouldn’t, eat. There are many ways of using foods to help DM. For example, some of the very best foods for prolonging the action of your compromised insulin stores are onions and garlic. Use these tasty foods liberally in your diet. Experiment. Did you ever try baking a whole onion along with your yams or potatoes? Delicious! Garlic is tasty baked, too. Learn to make a gourmet onion soup. Buy a garlic press. Other therapeutic foods for DM include:

  • Jerusalem artichokes, burdock, parsley. These plants are high in inulin, an insulin analog.
  • Chromium-rich foods such as Brewer’s yeast, lean beef, calf’s liver, whole wheat bread, wheat bran, rye bread, oysters and potatoes. Chromium is the central element in a very important molecule called the “glucose tolerance factor” (GTF). Research has shown that GTF is needed to allow insulin to do its work in getting sugar into the cells where it can be used as fuel for the entire system. Chromium is also available concentrated droplet form, and is helpful in controlling sugar cravings.
  • Zinc rich foods such as oysters, ginger root, wheat germ, lamb chops, pecans, brazil nuts and split peas. Zinc is a co-factor in many of the thousands of biochemical reactions that our body continuously performs. Paying attention to zinc intake is especially important for people who live in coastal regions and prefer to eat locally grown foods. This is because the rainfall tends to wash trace minerals in the soil out to sea, and minimal levels are absorbed into the produce.
  • Foods high in water-soluble fiber: flax seed, pectin, guar gum, oat bran, mucilage.
  • Whole grain and legume carbohydrates , such as squash, sweet potatoes and carrots.
  • Pumpkin, whole rice, yams, mung beans, stringbeans, cucumber,celery, peach, millet, spinach, blueberry, mung beans, peas, yams, tofu, cabbage, daikon radish, mulberries. And don’t foget garlic and onions.
  • Foods rich in Iodine, Silicon, Phosphorus such as kelp, dulse, Swiss Chard, turnip greens, egg yolks, wheat germ, cod roe, lecithin, sesame seed butter, seed and nuts, raw goat milk.
  • Garlic, more garlic, wheat germ, liquid chlorophyll, alfalfa sprouts, buckwheat, watercress, rice polishings, apple, cherries. But avoid fruit juices or dried fruits. They have too much concentrated fruit sugars. It’s best to avoid really sweet fruits like pears, bananas or figs.
  • To protect your heart and blood vessels, increase omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are found in vegetable, nut, and seed oils, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, and black currant oil. Don’t cook with these oils; use them raw in salad dressing, or to thicken a soup after it has been prepared.
  • Spices that are used in East India to control diabetes are cinnamon, turmeric, bay leaf, and cloves. Find some new recipies calling for these tasty flavors.

There are also nutritional supplements that can be useful in curbing DM, which will worsen if not agressively tended to. However, the list of vitamin and mineral “pills” can be overwhelming, so get the help of a nutritionally trained doctor, naturopath or progressive dietician to help choose the right ones for you. Here are some of the likely choices:

  • biotin 16 mg daily
  • myo-inositol 1 gram daily
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B6 100 mg daily especially if you have reduced nerve function in your legs. This is dangerous for diabetics. Pay attention and don’t let this sign progress.
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C 2 grams daily. Increase until your stool becomes soft, then cut back to the level of Vitamin C that allows a normal stool.
  • Vitamin E 100 I.U. and increase slowly to 400 I.U. daily
  • Chromium 200 mcg daily. Look for a supplement that says “Glucose Tolerance Factor” on the label.
  • Magnesium 500 mg daily
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc picolinate 30 mg daily
  • bioflavonoids: such as rutin and quercetin, 500 mg daily
  • Coenzyme Q10, about 60 mg daily to improve heart function

One last piece of relatively “new” information relating DM to diet, that is particularly important for children. Recent studies have difinitively linked the ingestion of cow’s milk by children to development of DM. Cows have four stomach with which to digest their own milk. Cow’s milk is just not fit for human consumption, especially not when it’s full of bovine growth hormone and antibiotics. Don’t feed your children cow’s milk. They just don’t need it; in fact it’s bad for us all unless you are dying of starvation and its the only available source of protein. The only “healthy” dairy product for homo sapiens (that’s us) is yogurt, which is already partially digested with enzymes.

How can I use Physical Medicine to help control my Diabetes?

Regular aerobic exercise should always be part of your treatment plan. This is important for cardiovascular fitness, for weight management and to stimulate peripheral blood flow. Make sure to have a snack before and after exercising. You can also use short cold showers or baths to promote blood flow. Some people enjoy a form of stimulating massage called a “salt glow” in which the therapist lightly rubs rock salt onto your skin. Never apply hot packs or other heating devices to the head, hands or feet. Warm your extremities gently by applying heat to the thighs or upper arms first.

Are there plants to treat Diabetes? How can Botanical Medicine help?

A great lesson can be learned from native American populations (American Indians and Alaska Natives). These peoples very rarely suffered from DM until they began to eat a “Western” diet. Now, sadly, the disease is rampant in their communities. The indigenous diest of these peoples contained many plant foods that served as insulin analogues. Most notably of these medicinal plants are the Panax species which include Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridum) and Ginseng. Other therapeutic plants for DM include:

  • Allium cepa (onion). More onion.
  • Allium sativum (garlic). Lots of garlic.
  • Arctium lappa (Burdock root). High in inulin, an insulin analog.
  • Chionanthus virginicus (Fringetree) for pre-diabetic symptoms such as easy fainting and fatigue.
  • Crataegus spp. (Hawthorne berry). Excellent for vascular tone.
  • Ginkgo biloba (Gingko) to help prevent diabetic retinopathy (failing eyesight) and peripheral vascular disease.
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice root), to maximize adrenal function.
  • Juniperus communis (Juniper berries), a major component of many indigenous diets. Useful as a detoxify agent and to control blood sugar.
  • Lycopus virginicus: (Bugleweed) for the classic symptoms of DM: great thirst, great hunger and great urination.
  • Phaseolus vulgaris (bean pod)
  • Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion root), a mild, Potasium-rich diuretic and liver cleansing herb.
  • Trigonella foenum-graecum: (Fenugreek). This is a traditional remedy for DM, used world-wide.(
  • Vaccinium spp. (Bilberry, also known as Huckleberry, especially the leaf) stabilizes blood sugar and improves vascular tone.

Please consult with a qualified herbalist or naturopathic doctor to get the correct doses and method of administration. Many of these botanical medicines can be eaten as food, but some are best taken in tincture (alcohol extraction) form, and some may be difficult to locate. There does exist, however, a whole world of medicinal herb farms in the U.S., and many of these farmers grow their crops organically, without insecticides or weed-killers, which of course makes this form of medicine all the more desirable.

What can Homeopathy do for Diabetes?

Many homeopathic remedies have been applied to the treatment of DM. The trick with homeopathy is, however, to treat YOU, and not just your disease. The homeopathic physician must carefully assess your entire symptom picture, figure out your personality, your hopes and fears, your family history, and put it all together to come up with the single individual remedy that best fits your picture. The following list of remedies is given not so much as a place to begin experimenting (this is not advisable) but for you to read and begin to think about the kind of information your homeopath will want to get in order to find the “similimum.” Please read the essay on Homeopathy in the Introduction to Modalities section.

  • Alumen for obstinate constipation; where the stools are flat, thin and take a long time to evacuate.
  • Aluminium Metallicum for coma with drowsiness, you feel unable to recognize people or answer questions; constipation.
  • Argenticum metallicum a remedy for emaciation and great weakness; pale and sallow face and swollen feet.
  • Arsenicum album for dry, brittle scaly skin, dry mouth, unquenchable thirst, no appetite, constipation. Often this patient “wastes away” and becomes very dry and thin.
  • Carbo vegetabilis dryness of mouth in the early morning, pain in liver as if bruised; sudden weakness and fainting, physical depression and lassitude.
  • Chionanthus Virginica for a pre-diabetic state in the patient with liver disease; great thirst, dark, sugary urine; insulin resistant.
  • Graphites for the patient who looks broken down, with gouty and rheumatic problems; emaciation and debility, twitching of limbs and paralytic weakness of joints; sleepless nights.
  • Moschus for diabetes which presents with impotency.
  • Natrum muriaticum for dry skin, itching all over body; restless; yawning and acting dejected; needs to pass urine every hour.
  • Nux vomica for DM with stupor and vertigo, buzzing in ears, sleeplessness.
  • Phosphoric acid fits the nervous patient who has milk-colored urine; great debility and bruised feeling in muscles; symptoms worse with grief, worry, anxiety; early stage diabetes.
  • Phosphorus is for restlessness and dry mouth; the patient urinates copiously – 4-5 pints in 24 hrs.
  • Plumbum metallicum for DM with constipation, and protein overflowing into the urine (which is determined by urinalysis).
  • Ratanhia for DM with scanty urine.
  • Uranium nitricum for DM due to defective assimilation; weak digestion, langour, debility; enormous appetite but the stomach feels full.

Can I treat my diabetes with acupuncture? What does the long history of Traditional Chinese Medicine have to offer to diabetics?

Yes. The Chinese have developed a sophisticated system not only for treating, but for dagnosing what we call Diabetes Mellitus. They conceptualize three different types of DM, which primarily affect either the “upper,” “middle” or “lower” body. The middle body (or Middle Jiao as it is called in Chinese) is the earlier form of DM, which presents mainly with “great hunger.” The disease progresses to the Upper Jiao form, characterized by the addition of “great thirst” to the symptom picture. Finally, the Lower Jiao form manifests with great hunger, great thirst and also “great urination.” Acupoints that may be helpful for these three separate but related entities will be discussed below.

Some possible points for Upper Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome:

  • jin jin and yu yeh, located below the lower lip, dispel Heat, especially Heat in the Blood and help to make fluids ascend.
  • Bladder-13 is located on either side of the spine, about level with the tops of the shoulder blades, and is used to clear and disperse Fire and Heat from the Lung and Upper Jiao and regulates and strengthens the Lung Qi. The Lungs, according to TCM, are critical in dispersing moisture throughout the body, thus preventing thirst.
  • Lung-11 is near the elbow and is a classic “cooling” point. It moistens throat and can quickly bring down a fever.
    Possible points for Middle Wasting and Hunger Syndrome:
  • Bladder-20, located mid-back on either side of the spine, is a master point for regulating the digestive system.
  • Bladder-21, just below Bladder 20, regulates the Stomach.
  • Stomach-28 is on the lower abdomen and regulates body fluids to promote diuresis and facilitate digestion.
    Possible points for Lower Wasting and Urination Syndrome:
  • Bladder-23, on either side of the spine about waist level, is the primary point for regulating Kidney function.
  • Conception Vessel-4 located midline on the abdomen below the navel is key to controlling bladder function, especially with frequent urination
  • Kidney-5, near the inner ankles, primarily strengthens function of the Kidneys.
    The Chinese also have a wide array of plants and medicinal plant formulations to help treat DM. Some of the more popular remedies include:
    For Upper Jiao syndrome, with excessive thirst predominant:
  • Ginseng and Gypsum C. (Bai Hu Jia Shen Tang): Lung Yin Xu (Deficiency).
    For Middle Jiao syndrome, with excessive hunger predominant:
  • Rehmannia and Gypsum C. (Yu Nu Jian): Stomach Yin Xu (Deficiency).
  • Ophiopogon and Rehmannia C.: Kidney Yin Xu (Deficiency) with weak digestive function.
    And for Lower Jiao syndrome, with excessive urination predominant:
  • Phellodendron C.; Yu Chuan Wan (patent): Kidney Yin Xu (Deficiency) with Empty Fire Blazing (false hunger).
  • Rehmannia Eight F. (Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan): Kidney Yin Xu (Deficiency) with Kidney Yang Xu (Deficiency): Early-onset (insulin-dependent) diabetes .
  • Rehmannia Six F. (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan) (available as patent); Rehmannia 16 (patent); Cuscuta 15 (patent): Kidney Yin Xu (Deficiency).
  • Quan Lu Wan (patent): Adult diabetes with both Kidney Yin Xu (Deficiency) and Kidney Yang Xu (Deficiency).
  • Ci Wu Jia Pian (patent): tonic to increase gland function.

Can Subtle Energy Medicine really help a physical problem like high blood sugar?

The use of flower essences, very dilute tincture made from fresh flowers, can work wonders to help control sugar cravings and other symptoms of DM. Flowers used for diabetes include:

  • blackberry
  • chamomile
  • nasturtium
  • Another Subtle Energy modality advocates the use of color therapy, either through wearing clothes of a certain color, or using colored lights in your home and work place.
  • lemon on front of body helps to dissolve blood clots and acts as a “balancing” agent in chronic disease, such as diabetes.
  • yellow on abdomen and lower thorax acts on the intestines, stimulates the digestive action of the pancreas, increases the flow of bile and hydrochloric acid (both important agents of digestion).
  • magenta on the tops of the feet helps improves circulation.
  • lemon and yellow can also be applied to the solar plexus for 15 minutes to control hunger.
  • indigo applied on the throat cna help control thirst.
  • blue on the liver for 5 minutes can stimulate the flow of bile.
  • blue on brow can relieve sugar cravings.
  • orange, green and indigo in combination is said to imrove insulin function.

How can I use the power of my mind to improve or cure Diabetes? How can Psycho-Spiritual Therapy help me?

The mind is your most powerful tool for regaining health, especially if you are willing to look at mental patterns that keep you “stuck” in your disease. Consider the following concepts, and explore any that strike a chord.

  • Longing for what might have been; a great need to control; deep sorrow; no sweetness left.
  • Bitterness in life and need to sweeten one’s life.
  • Associated with stress. Diabetics have increased ketones (a byproduct of protein digestion) after stress. Anecdotal review of life histories of 50 DM patients correlates the onset of disease after a period of environmental or interpersonal stress. Stress has been associated with exacerbations of the disease.
  • The many personality traits conducive to obesity apply as well to the adult diabetic. All told, there exists a tendency for a highly depressed attitude in conjunction with a knee-jerk reaction to the disease, which creates a fatalistic attitude toward the condition. If this sounds familiar to you, know that you don’t just have to accept this. You can do something about it, and change your life for the better. The major ingredients for improving the menu are faith, and persistence.
  • Associated with need for immediate gratification.
  • Starvation for love and affection from the family.
  • Common parental messages communicated to diabetics as children:
    • be in control
    • do not be angry or upset
    • death will occur at an early age
    • you are special but flawed
    • be strong and do not ask for help
  • May be due to the strain of inadequately satisfied demands for love and attention.
  • Longing for what might have been; a great need to control; deep sorrow; no sweetness left.
  • Unexpressed anger and hostility.
  • Strong dependency needs.
  • “Dying for something sweet.”
  • Behind the desire of diabetics to enjoy sweet things, and their simultaneous inability to assimilate sugar and absorb it into their own body-cells, stands an unsatisfied desire for love, along with the inability to accept love and absorb it unreservedly.

Diabetes leads to an over-acidification of the body which can lead to coma. Once again we have the polarity between love and aggression, between sugar and acid, and symbolically, at a mythological level, between Venus goddess of Love) and Mars (the war god).Perhaps you are convinced that high blood sugar is the root problem, and imagine this problem would be solved if only the excess blood sugar would just leave. Since it is actually a problem of transporting sugar into cells and metabolism, make sure to visualize this sugar uptake process, and not that the blood sugar “goes away.” You can use the power of your mind to talk positively to yourself, every day. This process is called affirmation. You can make up you own, or use these:

  • I will do something sweet for myself today.
  • This moment is filled with joy.
  • I now choose to experience the sweetness of today.