There are three main types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes: The ability of the body to produce insulin is impaired. It is due to damage or destruction of the insulin-producing organ pancreas. Such patients require insulin regularly to prevent hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Type 1 diabetes is often inherited.

Then we have gestational diabetes, which is seen during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes affects the mother and the child.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is the third type and accounts for approximately 90 percent of all diabetes.

Diabetes manifests itself when insulin produced in the body cannot adequately metabolize the sugar in the blood, causing blood sugar levels to spike. According to the American Diabetes Association, the standard blood sugar level in a fasting state in adults should stay less than 100 mg/dl. A reading between 100 mg/dl and 126 mg/dl indicates that the individual is pre-diabetic. These are warning levels. They tell you that you are on the verge of turning diabetic. The peak blood sugar levels for non-diabetics measured two hours after eating should not exceed 180 mg/dl.

Another reason is that the conversion process itself has become retarded. The cells of the body have become resistant to the available insulin. As a consequence, blood sugar levels rise. The medical name for such a condition is insulin resistance.

There are multiple causes of insulin resistance. Hepatitis C virus infection in the liver is one reported cause. (Petit et al., 2001) The pancreas themselves have become calcified and is unable to produce enough insulin is another reason. (Malka et al., 2000). There are other causes of insulin resistance.

The latest thinking is that an imbalance in the gut microbiota could contribute to diabetes.

Risk factors like overweight or obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, enhanced cholesterol levels, smoking, and gene dysfunction can cause diabetes. Racial factors also have been found to strengthen risk. (Feskens et al., 1989; Choi et al., 2001; Salman. I et al., 2013; Knowler et al.,1990)

Other risk factors identified are – strong family history of diabetes, age, obesity, and physical inactivity. (Fletcher et al., 2002)

Centers for Disease Control U.S.A. has estimated that around a third of people above 18 are pre-diabetic. The blood sugar levels in such individuals are slightly elevated but not high enough to be classified as diabetic. These individuals do not show any outward symptoms that indicate they are pre-diabetic.

Often with a few lifestyle changes, pre-diabetic condition progression to full-blown diabetes can be prevented.

The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes increases in adults over 40. Watch for symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, extreme tiredness, and the rapid loss of muscle mass. Doctors advise a blood test if an individual notices the above-listed symptoms.

In most Type 2 diabetes cases, symptoms appear slowly, and individuals often cannot detect the changes. Health workers, therefore, recommend periodic blood tests for people over 40 years of age. The tests help early in the detection and treatment of diabetes.

Plant-based medicines are the most prevalent modes of supportive diabetes treatment. More than 1200 flowering plants are said to possess anti-diabetic properties. Scientific studies’ results are available in journals on a third of these flowering plants. (Chang, C.L et al., 2013)

In addition to herbal medicine, I have reviewed available complementary and alternative medicine for diabetes. I have also compared the standard dietary recommendations of diabetes management bodies like the American Diabetes Association with those of ancient herbal medicine systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.).

These ancient systems look at diabetes holistically and recommend other procedures like acupuncture, acupressure, detoxification therapies, exercise therapies like yoga, taichi, gi gong, etc.,

My reviews cannot conclusively conclude that alternate and complementary medicines will impact all types of diabetes. Still, they do indicate that herbal medicine formulations combined with dietary and lifestyle changes do impact people with diabetes positively.


Additional reading:

Natural Solutions for Diabetes

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