Diabetes / Metabolic Syndrome

Paul L. Reller L.Ac. / Last Updated: August 03, 2017


Dietary Recommendations in Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Specific dietary protocols in diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome should adhere to the type of diabetes or metabolic disorder. A one-size-fits-all dietary scheme would be great, but is not a rational approach. For Type 1 Diabetes, or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), the main concern is helping to manage the energy metabolism through conscious and thoughtful habits. You can access information on a separate article, entitled Insulin Use and Support Therapies, providing useful data on foods and herbs that have specific effects on the insulin metabolism. This is extremely important, and reliance just on taking insulin has been proven to be disastrous over time for many decades and millions of patients. Insulin is now very expensive as well, and reducing the need for synthetic insulin not only improves long-term outcomes and quality of life, but saves a lot of money. These are integrative approaches, and not alternatives. For Type 2 Diabetes or Metabolic Syndrome, the dietary needs and sensible protocols are much different, and restoring a healthy metabolism, improving insulin sensitivity, and reversing fatty accumulation in and around organs are keys to success. Diets most studied and proven to help with insulin resistance include the Mediterranean Diet (plant-based whole food diet with a variety of health fats), a diet to restore balance of essential fatty acids, a low carbohydrate and high protein diet, a diet that avoids simple and processed carbodydrates and emphasizes healthier complex carbohydrates, a high fiber diet, and sensible use of specific nutrient supplements (e.g. magnesium, zinc monomethione, methylselenocysteine, green coffee extract, green tea epicatechins, and EPA in krill oil). In all types of diabetes, avoidance of transfats and high fructose corn syrup, as well as processed fats and sugars in general is extremely important. To see a common review of standard research concerning the importance of sensible dietary habits and Type 2 diabetes, from Cornell University in New York in 2016, just click here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27159643 . Of course, this is a big subject, and a dizzying amount of information and advice, mostly geared to sales rather than health, is now available on the web. Hopefully, this small offering will help create a guideline for a healthy individualized approach.

In all types of diabetes, loss of fluids without replenishing is a major concern, and drinking of sufficient water or fluids, but not excess (5-6 cups per day unless sweating or urinating heavily), even in the absence of thirst, is very important. Of course, avoiding soft drinks, processed juice drinks, and alcohol is important as well. Because of the inability to counter sugars or glucose from the diet, and regulate the storage and utilization of glucose, a number of basic considerations also need to be observed, especially increased aerobic activity, such as a 30-minute daily walk after a large meal, which helps to use higher levels of circulating blood sugar from simple carbohydrates, and thus decrease the load on metabolic and hormonal systems. Such simple daily exercise promotes healthy metabolism and weight loss, and a large Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that such a habit reduces the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 30 percent, whereas studies in recent years have noted that use of a statin drug to lower cholesterol in patients with Metabolic Syndrome actually increased the risk of developing true diabetes. A 2015 study at Tel Aviv University randomized patients diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes into a diet with a large healthy breakfast and a small evening dinner versus a small breakfast and a large dinner, the usual pattern in modern society, and found that the post-meal glucose elevations were 20 percent lower in general and levels of insulin, C-peptide and GLP-1 were 20 percent higher in the patients eating the large healthy breakfast and small dinner. Such advice mirrors that of ancient Daoist physicians in China, that noted that prompting the system of digestion and food assimilation properly in the morning resulted in improved homeostasis: (NOTE: these diabetic recommendations may not be as applicable to Metabolic Syndrome, in which the circulating glucose is not always elevated, but are generally applicable to metabolic balance):

  • Meals may need to be smaller and more frequent so that the body can handle the glucose loads more easily, and eating late at night should be avoided, as digestion is inhibited. Emphasis on a larger meal with a balanced healthy array of whole grains, egg, dairy, complex carbohydrates and fish in the morning is proven effective in establishing a better glucose control, with subsequent meals smaller. All patients do not need to adopt a habit of more frequent meals, though, and an individually adjusted protocol of eating habits needs to be designed to achieve concrete goals with monitoring. Improved glucose and metabolic monitoring and a more informed proactive approach would be very helpful, and improved technology is achieving easier metabolic monitoring to individualize dietary habits in diabetes. Increased chewing is recommended. Some herbal chemicals may modestly improve post-prandial sugar metabolism, and over time, improve the function of pancreatic beta cells to better handle glucose loads. The type of carbohydrate consumed, or the glycemic index, is very important in designing the right meal schedule and routine for the individual. (This is in contrast to an effective protocol in Metabolic Syndrome, where longer periods between meals may allow for improved insulin regulation and decreased stress on the mechanisms of insulin resistance.)
  • During periods of inactivity less food should be consumed, especially carbohydrates, which convert easily to glucose; eat complex carbohydrates and avoid simple carbs.
  • In response to heavier meals, increased activity or exercise is essential to consume the increased glucose. A brisk walk may serve this purpose, or even household chores or active hobbies. Use of a stationary bike or other exerciser is often quick and easy. The tendency to relax and be sedentary after the large meal is a natural response, but should be avoided
  • Likewise, before periods of increased activity or heavy exercise, heavier intake of food, especially complex carbohydrates is essential. You will need the extra fuel. (In Metabolic Syndrome, on the other hand, intake of fats before heavy exercise may induce increased utilization of stored fats for fuel, and consumption of protein and complex carbs following the heavy exercise may help manage the energy needs without stimulating excess insulin responses.)
  • A general balance between carbohydrates (50% of intake), fats (30%) and proteins (20%) should be maintained so as to supply glucose on a timely basis. Once again, complex carbohydrates, in the form of true whole grains, legumes, and fresh vegetables, will be easier for your slowed metabolism to handle. Healthy fats are important in this dietary protocol, and in general, healthy complex carbohydrates will help the body's metabolism to maintain a smoother control of metabolic utilization over time. Processed and fast foods that introduce advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), or complex molecules that combine simple carbohydrates, fats and proteins, increase oxidant stress and insulin resistance into cells.
  • Carbohydrates consumed should be whole grains and legumes, fresh vegetables and some fruits in small portions (avoid large consumption of juices). Products that are processed but advertise that they are whole grain and imply that they are complex are tricking consumers, and many of these commercially processed foods are simple carbohydrates that initiate a quick increase in blood sugar.
  • Processed food and refined sugars should be strictly avoided, especially fatty food and pastries. If you must have sweet snacks with simple carbohydrates, limit these to one bite. The discipline will pay off. There are snacks, even sweet snacks, that are composed of complex sugars, such as honey and maple syrup, and sesame seeds, etc. If the cravings are too strong, many patients just drink a little honey in hot water or peppermint tea, and the craving is satisfied. Other patients decrease sweet cravings by eating a little toasted nori seaweed, which presents the opposite taste to the body.
  • Fats should be mostly polyunsaturated, such as safflower, sesame, corn, and walnut oils, but only unrefined and cold pressed versions, and these generally should not be used for frying. Monounsaturated oils, such as olive and sunflower should be used for frying, and unrefined unprocessed coconut oil provides a partially saturated fat that is excellent for frying and healthy for a diabetic. An emphasis on at least some consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from walnut oil et al, or supplements such as krill oil, is desirable to control cholesterol and aid the pancreas and immune system. Because of the poor regulation of lipids in the diabetic state, saturated fats such as butter, cheese, egg, and meat should be limited. Margarine and refined oils and fats are trans-fats and are very bad in maintenance of cholesterol buildup and should also be avoided. Good supplements for omega 3 and 6 fatty acids include krill oil, black currant seed oil, spirulina, bluegreen algae and chlorella.
  • Some complex fatty sugars, called advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs, should be especially avoided in the diabetic state. In the diet, these molecules are generally created from the use of high heat and the combining of fats, proteins and simple sugars. Examples of AGEs include many snacks, such as potato or corn chips, as well as most fast foods, where sweet additives are combined with complex proteins and fats, often with deep frying or other high heat cooking methods. Processed foods are created to stimulate addictive appetite, not to insure healthy metabolism, and you would be surprised to find what the actual ingredients are in many commercial foods. Even breakfast cereals contain amounts of salts and sugars that are unbelievable, and these cereals too are processed with fast high heat that creates AGEs. AGEs not only present difficult problems for our digestive metabolism, but stress liver function, and create problems over time by stimulating the creation of excess AGE receptors. AGEs have been implicated in many diseases as primary causes, and show us that we need to change society's attitudes toward food.
  • While there has been widespread acceptance of the habit of a light breakfast for the last few decades, current studies show that this presents problems for the human metabolism. A large long-term study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012, reports the results of tracking the breakfast habits of 29,000 men for 16 years, and finds that those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 21 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those who ate a full breakfast. Traditional Chinese Medicine has long advocated the breaking of the nightly fast with complex carbohydrates and fermented foods. In China, this public health regimen is still popular, with the consumption of a slow cooked porridge of whole millet called congi, and the addition of a small amount of fermented vegetables to neutralize acids widely utilized. By starting the day with a metabolic stimulus of complex carbohydrates, stress on the insulin mechanisms is reduced. The American habit of consumption of simple carbohydrates in the form of processed cereals, toast, pastries, and a large glass of orange juice is perhaps the most deleterious dietary protocol in regards to metabolic stress and diabetes.
  • These facts should be kept in mind about oils:
    • polyunsaturated oils reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL) but also decrease healthy high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
    • monounsaturated oils do not deplete HDL and do not cause cholesterol to accumulate in the blood vessels.
    • saturated fats (which also include processed peanut, coconut, and palm kernel oils) cause cholesterol to block arteries.
    The bottom line on fats is that we should become a little educated concerning healthy and unhealthy fats and oils. Most fats in commercial foods today are polyunsaturated because this extends the shelf-life. Cold-pressed natural oils that are relatively fresh are monounsaturated. Some saturated fats provide great nutrition, such as butter and meat fat, but should not be overconsumed, and some heavily processed saturated and partially saturated fats can be very harmful to the health. On the other hand, fresh natural cold-pressed coconut oil is partially saturated and is proven very assimilatable and healthy to our cells, and is a good substitue, in moderation, for butter.
  • Protein choices should include more fish and fowl, beans and legumes, soy products (preferably fermented, cultured as in tempeh, or traditionally prepared tofu), and small portions of nuts and seeds. A 2013 multicenter study by the Harvard School of Public Health, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that 8 ounces of fresh walnuts per month was an effective preventive measure against Diabetes Type 2, or Metabolic syndrome, due the quality of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, and other nutrients. A bag of fresh walnuts in the shell, purchased just once a month could provide significant benefits (see study link below in additional information). Beef and pork are more suited for wasting stages of the disease, and are not suitable for periods of weight gain, high cholesterol, hepatitis, nephritis, and hypertension. Meat portions should be small (2-3 oz) and the consumption of leafy greens, and sulfur vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, onions and garlic will aid in their digestion. Proteins are not only found in meats, but a complete array of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, as well as complex proteins themselves, are found in vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. These non-meat proteins are also generally easier to digest and assimilate. Meats also will often have chemicals and hormones that are toxic these days, and the consumption of ginger will help reduce these toxins.
  • Foods that are hypoglycemic, or sugar reducing, include garlic, onion, tomato, grape, carrot, fennel, peas, grapefruit, banana, cauliflower, black currant, eggplant and corn. Of course, anything in excess may be harmful, and the consumption of large amounts of carrot juice may stress the metabolic system excessively. A diet of fresh, local, organic vegetables and limited fruits, complex carbohydrates in the form of a variety of whole grains, beans and legumes, and limits on the percentage of the diet made up of meat and dairy, should be the heart of the diabetic diet, with a variety of healthy fats and oils, and avoidance of simple sugars, or carbohydrates. This diet is both effective in restoring the metabolism and tasty. As America improves its health, these foods are becoming increasingly available. With voter input, laws that have made small farming and organic farming overly expensive may be changed, and this diet may even become more affordable. The real costs of your food bill must include the long-term costs of poor health, and must include the big picture, namely that improving the health of the nation by encouraging a healthy diet will bring down healthcare and insurance costs in the long run.
  • There is evidence that the habit of drinking tea, or the widely cultivated herb Camelia sinensis from China, provides significant benefit in countering insulin resistance and obesity. This herbal leaf contains beneficial alkaloids, such as xanthine, theophylline and theobromine, tannic acids, and polyphenols such as epigallocatechin (ECGC) that has been well studied and proven to exert an array of benefits. While the term tea is now misused to refer to any herbal infusion or any herbal decoction, this is a deliberate misuse of the term, which refers specifically to the plant species Camelia. A 2011 study at the University of Oklahoma with Jilin University in China showed that one way common tea, especially quality black teas, Oolong and green tea such as Dragonwell, exerts benefits in Metabolic Syndrome, diabetes and obesity syndromes is because it inhibits a tyrosine phosphatase enzyme called PTP1B. To see this study, just click here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070786/ . There are many dietary habits that could be helpful.

Principal concerns with diabetes

Always keep in mind that with diabetes the chief concerns are:

  • The normal mechanism to control the utilization of food is not functioning properly. You must assume control of food intake and energy use, as well as the storage of fats.
  • Cardiovascular problems and cholesterol are major concerns. (The skin is also maintained by the blood, and skin problems should be dealt with.)
  • The nervous system is easily affected by large fluctuations in circulating glucose, as well as fluctations in protein messengers and lipids, and attention should be paid to changes in mood, emotional reaction, and mental clarity.
  • Hormonal balance, inflammatory regulation and optimum health of the liver system is often essential to success in controlling diabetic metabolism

To address these concerns:

Cholesterol and saturated fats in the blood may be reduced by eating whole grains, especially rye, oats, amaranth, and quinoa. These may be purchased whole and cooked as cereal in the morning. This cooking takes about 20 minutes. These are the best sources of vitamin E and niacin, which together with vitamin C and lecithin, reduce cholesterol and saturated fats. Chromium, zinc, and manganese are factors which help control blood sugars, and these are found in the bran of whole grains. Adding wheat bran to the diet, especially in the absence of whole grains, has shown to be of great value. Lecithin is found in most legumes, and soy, as well as nearly all beans, peas, and lentils are blood cleansers, but especially soy, mung beans, and white pearl barley, or yiyiren. Beans should constitute 5-10% of your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids (FA), especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docohexaenoic acid (DHA), are particularly blood cleansing, and aid renewal of brain function and repair of nerve damage. These are plentiful in fish, especially salmon, and fish oil, as well as spirulina and micro-algae. Fish oil capsules are now very popular, but a problem exists with these, and with flax oil capsules, of oxidized fats over time. Taking fresh fish and flax oil is therefore important, as oxidants should be avoided. Krill oil is a preferred form of fish oil, containing a very concentrated level of EPA and DHA, and it has a naturally occurring preservative that inhibits oxidation. Spirulina is a plant source and also helps to stabilize blood sugar, presenting a double benefit. 4 tablespoons of ground flax seed or 1 tablespoon of flax seed oil per day is an excellent source of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, but these fatty acids are also found in tofu and tempeh, walnuts, pumpkin seeds (and pumpkin seed oil), dark leafy green vegetables, and milk or cheese from cows, goats, or sheep that are allowed to graze on grass, and to a lesser extent, in cold-climate nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. These seeds and nuts, or fine organic cheeses with rye crackers make an excellent snack instead of pastries and candy. Once again, if you consume seeds and nuts, try to be sure that they are fresh and not oxidized, or rancid. Eating these foods from the shell insures freshness, and also prevents you from consuming too many in one sitting, which is not a healthy habit. If you are a vegetarian, the essential fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA), an omega-6 FA, often in excess in heavy meat eaters, may be deficient. This will show as dry skin or hair, varicose veins, brittle nails, liver problems and irritability, and low body weight. Snacking on nori seaweed or peanuts will replenish this FA. An omega-6 fatty acid more beneficial than arachidonic acid is gamma linolenic acid (GLA), and supplements derived from black currant seed oil supply a healthy amount of GLA and other essential fatty acids. In addition, the nutrient astaxanthin, a cartenoid antioxidant terpene, found in rich concentration in both krill oil and microalgaes, was found in studies to be highly protective of pancreatic beta-cell function and able to increase the ability of these cells to secrete insulin.

Numerous studies of diabetes and metabolic syndrome find that increased oxidative stress and low antioxidant capacity, especially deficiency of the intercellular antioxidant and cell detoxifier glutathione, corresponds to the transition from impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance to hyperglycemic states. One useful antioxidant and lipolytic aid studied is R-lipoic acid, which has been proven to prevent hyperglycemic states, reduce insulin levels, and increase free radical scavenging potential in anmial studies at the University of Pittsburgh (PMID: 14749277). Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) have been highly implicated in the diabetic etiology of atherosclerotic plaque formation and cardiovascular risk, and the A1C index is now widely used to aid diagnosis in modern medicine. Various amino acids and nutrient medicines have been shown to reduce AGE accumulation, especially L-carnosine, and may be purchased in nutrient formula. These nutrient formulas usually contain R-lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, benfotiamine, and P5P to act synergistically. Also, studies have found that restricting AGEs in the diet had remarkable effects to improve Type 2 diabetes. A 2011 study cited in Additional Information, at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, in New York, found that restricting AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts) in the diet resulted in decreased leptin and inflammatory cytokines and improved adiponectin and insulin sensitivity. AGEs in the diet are found mainly in complex fast food and processed foods and snacks with combinations of carbohydrates, sugar, fat and protein. Obviously, patients with any type of diabetes should avoid these foods. To read more about AGEs and pathology, go to a separate article on this website in the For Professionals section.

The role of oxidant stress, advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), glucose toxicity, and lipotoxicity in the destruction of pancreatic beta cells has been well studied and documented. This leads to a number of recommendations for antioxidant therapy. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) has been used in laboratory experiments and proven to protect against oxidative stress-induced diabetes. Dried barley grass supplement is an excellent natural source for superoxide dismutase. Manganese SOD is considered a preferable form. Aloe vera gel contains both manganese and SOD, and may be consumed as a dietary supplement. An essential mineral formula with manganese may also be helpful, taken together with an SOD enhancer, such as CoQ10. SOD (superoxide dismutase) is a potent intracellular antioxidant created by our cells, and enhancement of our cellular SOD production is perhaps the best strategy in therapy. Nevertheless, both a plant and animal bioidentical SOD is now marketed as supplements. Since this complex antioxidant may be broken down by our digestive system, SOD cream is now available as well, and has shown some clinical success in studies in Japan, treating skin disease in autoimmune pathologies. N-acetyl cysteine has also been shown to protect against oxidative stress-induced diabetes in laboratory animals, and is increasingly prescribed as an amino acid boost to antioxidant effects, as is R-lipoic acid. To understand more about antioxidant therapy, go to the article entitled Antioxidants and Free Radicals on this website. Simply taking a simple antioxidant regularly, such as Vitamims A, C and E, which has been touted in standard medicine for some time, may not be an effective strategy, and there is evidence that excess consumption of one of the forms of Vitamin E (tocopherols) for a long period may have negative health effects. For instance, a five year study of the effects of large dosage Vitamin E and selenium supplement to treat or prevent prostate cancer showed that the patients taking an excess dosage of Vitamin E has higher rates of cancer, yet when taking a selenium supplement, the excess dosage of Vitamin E did not result in increased prostate cancer rates. Today, mixed tocopherols as Vitamin E are recommended in proper dosage. One form of CoQ10 provides mixed tocopherols in the CoQ10 supplement, usually called enhanced CoQ10. Utilizing nutritional medicine in a targeted professional course with guidance, rather than succumbing to marketing and simple strategies is advisable. Guidance by a Complementary Medicine physician will help to choose an effective course of therapeutic protocols and obtain quality products.

Malic acid and magnesium malate have been found to be helpful in metabolic syndrome and diabetes as well. Animal studies, cited in the section of this article entitled Additional Information, found that in a normal metabolism, these provided little benefit, but in a set of subjects with lipid imbalance, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol, a significant lowering of blood sugar level, and lowering of alkaline phosphatase and amylase activities, was noted. This implies that magnesium malate may aid normalizing of chronic acidity, and aid conversion of starch to sugar. These studies also noted lowered chemiluminescence in red blood cells, an important measure of oxidative stress. Malic acid is a complex carbohydrate found in unripe fruit, especially green apples, but is also produced in our cells in the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle). Improved mitochondrial health may also be integral to better cellular metabolism.


Small simple meals, emphasis on a larger healthy meal at breakfast and a smaller meal at dinner, whole grains and beans, sufficient water between meals, tofu, tempeh, fish and fowl in small portions, dark leafy greens, spirulina, salads with dressing made from walnut or grapeseed oil, fresh fruit and vegetables, snacking on peanuts (fresh and not salted and heavily roasted), fine cheese and rye crackers, carrots, hummus, carrot juice, micro-algae juice, wheat grass juice, etc. -no late evening meals, fatty foods, processed foods, refined sugar, and no foods that stress the liver, such as alcohol and greasy foods. In short, a normal healthy diet, with an emphasis on a vegetarian theme, use of a variety of healthy unprocessed oils, soups and steamed food more often than fried food, and timely exercise will do the job.

If you want to supplement, the above mentioned vitamins C and E, zinc, manganese, lecithin, and niacin are easy to find and psyllium is a healthy addition to reduce fats. Brewer's yeast with added chromium improves insulin efficiency and is a good source for vitamin B12. Brewer's yeast on popcorn is an excellent snack. Vitamin B12 will help prevent neuropathy, along with folic acid, and is best utilized as as injection, or in sublingual form, preferrably liquid. Large studies have shown that about a fifth of patients taking Metformin, the most widely prescribed medication for Metabolic Syndrome, eventually develop a problem with B12 absorption, and periodic use of a liquid high-dose B12 supplement, or a B12 injection would be a sensible part of the holistic protocol. If neuropathy develops, a good source of calcium and magnesium may be warranted. A vitamin B complex will aid liver function and may help control HTN. Supplement formulas are often convenient, and a reliable company, such as Vitamin Research, offers quality products based on the latest research findings. Their current formula GluControl combines Vitamin C and E (as d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate and mixed tocopheryls), bitter melon extract, N-acetyl-cysteine, Goats rue herbal extract (Galega officianalis), a patented cinnamon bark extract, and vanadium to provide aids to metabolic balance, as well as antioxidants and cardiovascular protection. AGE Block formula provides a number of essential nutrients to decrease the formation of advanced glycation endproducts, which are measured in the A1C index, an important test in diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and are a focal cause of atherosclerotic plaque formation.

Other supplements may also be helpful with periodic use or targeted prescription. Enhanced CoQ10, omega-6 and -3 essential fatty acids to balance individual fatty acid metabolism (EPAq and GLA), N-acetyl cysteine, Malate complex, R-lipoic acid, and zinc monomethionine may be helpful in the overall treatment protocol. Not all of these need be taken at once, and surely not taken long term, as the goal of therapy should be to restore the body's metabolism and function, not substitute. Use of Chinese herbal formulas and acupuncture will enhance the restoration of functional metabolism and homeostatis, and guided therapy will provide a quicker and better outcome than self-medication. Dietary changes are most important.

For further advice on specific diets geared to your individual condition (all diabetics are not alike in body type / balance ) you must see a practitioner that can diagnose you correctly, and is skilled in the energetics of food and diet. Some acupuncturists and herbalists are thus skilled, and naturopaths with a study of traditional Chinese medicine are also a good source of advice.

Treatment options and strategies in Complementary Medicine:

Effective treatment with Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) is important with the diabetic patient. The variety of types of diabetes and the extent of damage to the system, both from the disease and from chronic long-term use of insulin and other medications makes each individual case unique in its needs. Research continues to expand the effectiveness of herbal formulas to treat these problems, as well as acupuncture. The treatment protocol should be managed by a professional in such a complicated disease. A variety of herbal formulas and nutrient medicines are available to the physician, and need to be individualized in therapy, and often prescribed in a goal oriented, step-by-step approach.

While the herbal and nutrient research is extensive, and cannot be completely described on an article such as this, here are a few pieces of information that may help the patient understand how herbal and nutrient medicine may benefit them. A number of herbs are proven to help reduce your blood sugar more quickly after you eat, including Crepe Myrtle, American Ginseng and Cinnamon bark. Better utilization and transformation of sugars or carbohydrates can be helped with a number of herbs which have long been used in Chinese hospitals, and are available in professional formulas. Efficient transformation of sugars in the liver may be helped with acupuncture and herbal formulas that stimulate healthier liver function to improve triglyceride and protein metabolism as well as cholesterols and lipid metabolism. Nutrient medicines, such as L-Carnitine and Alpha-Lipoic Acid, have also been found to be helpful in improving metabolic utilization, and N-acetyl cysteine is proven to help reverse pancreatic beta cell damage from inorganic arsenic and mercury toxicity. A variety of herbs and nutrient medicines are now shown to be effective to normalize lipid metabolism and cholesterol, such as bitter melon extract and red yeast rice extract. Alone, none of these nutrient molecules may cure diabetes or Metabolic Syndrome, but in a professionally prescribed protocol, they will achieve a variety of goals and restore normal energy metabolism and homeostasis.

Since inflammation is a key problem in diabetes and insulin metabolism, anti-inflammatory herbs, anti-oxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acid supplements etc. may make a big difference to treat the cause of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Hormonal balance is also a key issue in healthy restoration. Since insulin is a steroid hormone and the endocrine system needs balance, use of bio-identical progesterone stimulating creams when appropriate have shown great improvement in diabetes clinically. The pioneer M.D., Dr. John R. Lee, has written extensively on this research. Acupuncture and herbal formulas, as well as supplements and creams, also are helpful to correct associated hormonal problems like adrenal stress and subclincial hypothyroid problems, which may be related, and are ongoing underlying causes of metabolic and inflammatory dysfunction. Although the herbal and nutrient medical approach is more complicated than taking a single pill, the end result may be worth the trouble.

Diabetes primarily causes inflammatory deterioration of the blood vessels and nerve sheaths, leading to peripheral neuropathy, circulatory problems, cardiovascular pathology, visual deterioration and kidney failure. On the other hand, Metabolic Syndrome primarily affects the cardiovascular system by increasing atherosclerotic plaques on arterial walls. This is largely driven by a combination of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) and chronic vascular inflammation and immune dysregulation. Metabolic Syndrome and insulin resistance usually causes some degree of obesity, and effects a wide variety of hormonal modulations in the body. These effects of insulin resistance may cause problems with brain function, polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility, and a host of related dysfucntions in the body. Allopathic medicine does not address these varied healthy problems that accompany Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Complementary Medicine offers the patient a variety of effective treatments for these disorders as well, treating both the manifestation of the disease as well as the disorder itself, and able to individualize the treatment for each patient.

Since the array of problems in diabetes can be so broad, you need to discuss the particular therapies and options with a knowledgeable practitioner. As always, the health benefits from this treatment strategy will help you to both treat your diabetes and become a healthier and more productive person.


The most reliable resources, and the main resources for this paper are:

  • Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pritchford
  • Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis and James Balch