Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder whereby there tends to be elevated blood sugar levels. This occurs when your body either does not produce enough insulin or is unable to use it effectively. Insulin is responsible for transporting sugar from the bloodstream into your cells where it is either stored or used for energy. When this process is not functioning well, it can lead to the development of diabetes[i].
If left untreated, high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can cause damage to various organs such as the nerves, eyes, and kidneys. However, with proper education and management techniques, people with diabetes or prediabetes can take steps to prevent or manage diabetes for their health[ii].
Type 1: This type of diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The exact cause of this attack is debated by researchers. Scientists think type 1 diabetes may occur due to genetic and environmental factors, such as viruses, that may trigger the disease.
Type 2: Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, resulting in the accumulation of sugar in the blood. It is the most common type and affects approximately 90% to 95% of people with diabetes[iv].
Gestational: Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy, caused by insulin-blocking hormones produced by the placenta.
Diabetes insipidus: Unlike diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus is a rare condition that affects the kidneys, causing excessive fluid loss from the body[iii].
Prediabetes is a condition known to be apparent when there are higher than normal blood sugar levels (that do not meet the diagnostic criteria for Type 2 diabetes). It occurs when the body cells do not respond to insulin in the way they should, which can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. It is possible for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes to be reversed, with proper lifestyle adjustments, healthcare, and holistic practices.
Symptoms of diabetes arise due to elevated blood sugar levels. While the symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 are similar, they tend to occur more rapidly in Type 1 than in Type 2, where the onset is slower. Nerve tingling and slow-healing sores are more commonly associated with Type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, Type 1 diabetes, may lead to a life-threatening condition called ‘diabetic ketoacidosis’. Although Type 1 is less common in other types of diabetes, it is still possible to develop.
Common symptoms of diabetes include increased hunger and thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme fatigue, weight loss, and sores that don't heal. Men with diabetes may experience a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and poor muscle strength, whilst women may experience vaginal dryness, urinary tract and yeast infections, and dry, itchy skin.
Naturopathic practitioners approach diabetes as a complex condition that requires a comprehensive, holistic approach to treatment. They aim to identify and address the underlying causes of the disease, which can involve a combination of dietary and lifestyle modifications, as well as the use of natural supplements and herbs.
A key aspect of naturopathic treatment for diabetes is dietary changes that involve reducing intake of processed foods, refined sugars, and carbohydrates that cause blood sugar spikes. Naturopathic practitioners may also recommend increasing intake of whole foods, fibre-rich foods, and healthy fats to support optimal blood sugar regulation.
In addition to dietary changes, naturopathic practitioners may recommend lifestyle modifications, such as regular exercise, stress management techniques, and adequate sleep, to improve insulin sensitivity and overall health[v][vi].
In conjunction with dietary advice, naturopathic practitioners may also suggest natural supplements and herbs to support blood sugar regulation, such as chromium, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, and cinnamon. These supplements may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, which can contribute to the development of diabetes.
Overall, naturopathic treatment for diabetes focuses on addressing the underlying causes of the disease and promoting overall health and wellness through natural, holistic approaches.
A naturopathic diet for diabetes typically focuses on whole, nutrient-dense foods that are low in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. A study published in the journal Nutrients in 2017 found that a diet high in fibre and low in added sugars was associated with improved insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese adults. Introducing more plant-based protein can be effective in controlling diabetes, nuts in particular, are a great source of protein and micronutrients[vii][viii].
Therefore, incorporating a naturopathic diet, along with other lifestyle interventions such as regular exercise and stress management techniques, can be an effective way to improve insulin sensitivity and overall health in people with diabetes[ix].
Viridian Chromium & Cinnamon Complex - Chromium is an important mineral that contributes to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels. Cinnamon, also known as “sweet wood,” has been well studied clinically and has a long history of traditional use[x].
Pure Encapsulations Metabolic Xtra – This complex may support healthy insulin receptor function and signalling, which support healthy glucose metabolism. It contains chromium and cinnamon, as discussed previously, as well as green tea extract (a source of antioxidants that may support metabolic health and weight management), and Alpha lipoic acid: an antioxidant that may support healthy insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in cells[xiv][xv].
Viridian Nac+ - NAC+ Veg Caps from Viridian Nutrition offers a combination of NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), Chromium, L-Glutamine and Cinnamon. The accessory elements in this formula - Chromium, L-Glutamine and Cinnamon - offer supportive actions to NAC[xvi][xvii].
Viridian Pine Bark Extract Veg Caps Organic – Pine bark extract is derived from the bark of the maritime pine tree (Pinus pinaster) and is rich in antioxidants known as proanthocyanidins. Some preliminary studies have suggested that pine bark extract may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar control in people with diabetes[xix].
Adrenal Stress Index - Chronic stress can increase blood sugar levels and make it more difficult to manage diabetes. In addition, stress can also have a negative impact on overall health and wellbeing[xx]. It's important to note that stress is just one of many factors that can affect blood sugar levels, and that people with diabetes should seek to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may include lifestyle interventions, medication, and other therapies where appropriate.
Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This test involves drinking a solution containing a measured amount of glucose, and then measuring blood sugar levels at regular intervals over the next few hours. The test is used to diagnose diabetes and to monitor blood sugar control in people with known diabetes.
Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test: This test measures blood sugar levels after a period of fasting, typically overnight. It is used to diagnose diabetes and to monitor blood sugar control in people with known diabetes.
Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test: This test measures the percentage of haemoglobin that is coated with sugar (glycated haemoglobin). It provides an average measure of blood sugar control over the past 2-3 months, and is used to diagnose diabetes and to monitor blood sugar control in people with known diabetes.
Insulin tolerance test (ITT): This test involves injecting the person with insulin and then measuring blood sugar levels at regular intervals over the next few hours. It is used to diagnose insulin resistance and to evaluate the function of the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin.
[i] Tomkins M, Lawless S, Martin-Grace J, Sherlock M, Thompson CJ. Diagnosis and Management of Central Diabetes Insipidus in Adults. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022 Sep 28;107(10):2701-2715. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgac381. PMID: 35771962; PMCID: PMC9516129.
[ii] Palumbo C, Nicolaci N, La Manna AA, Branek N, Pissano MN. Asociación de diabetes insípida central y diabetes mellitus tipo 2 [Association between central diabetes insipidus and type 2 diabetes mellitus]. Medicina (B Aires). 2018;78(2):127-130. Spanish. PMID: 29659364.
[iii] Cloete L. Diabetes mellitus: an overview of the types, symptoms, complications and management. Nurs Stand. 2022 Jan 5;37(1):61-66. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11709. Epub 2021 Oct 28. PMID: 34708622.
[v] Epel, E. S., McEwen, B., Seeman, T., Matthews, K., Castellazzo, G., Brownell, K. D., ... & Ickovics, J. R. (2000). Stress and body shape: stress-induced cortisol secretion is consistently greater among women with central fat. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62(5), 623-632. doi: 10.1097/00006842-200009000-00010.
[vi] Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, Yardley JE, Riddell MC, Dunstan DW, Dempsey PC, Horton ES, Castorino K, Tate DF. Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2016 Nov;39(11):2065-2079. doi: 10.2337/dc16-1728. PMID: 27926890; PMCID: PMC6908414.
[vii] Tonstad, S., Butler, T., Yan, R., & Fraser, G. E. (2009). Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 32(5), 791-796. doi: 10.2337/dc08-1886.
[viii] Kim Y, Keogh JB, Clifton PM. Benefits of Nut Consumption on Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Multiple Potential Mechanisms of Actions. Nutrients. 2017 Nov 22;9(11):1271. doi: 10.3390/nu9111271. PMID: 29165404; PMCID: PMC5707743.
[ix] Satija A, Bhupathiraju SN, Rimm EB, Spiegelman D, Chiuve SE, Borgi L, Willett WC, Manson JE, Sun Q, Hu FB. Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Med. 2016 Jun 14;13(6):e1002039.
[x] Anderson RA. Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity. Proc Nutr Soc. 2008 Feb;67(1):48-53. doi: 10.1017/S0029665108006010. PMID: 18234131.
[xi] Arablou, T., Aryaeian, N., Valizadeh, M., Sharifi, F., Hosseini, A. F., & Djalali, M. (2014). The effect of ginger consumption on glycemic status, lipid profile and some inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 65(4), 515-520. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2014.880671.
[xii] Kubo K, Aoki H, Nanba H. Anti-diabetic activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (Maitake). I. Biol Pharm Bull. 1994 Aug;17(8):1106-10. doi: 10.1248/bpb.17.1106. PMID: 7820117.
[xiii] Croze ML, Soulage CO. Potential role and therapeutic interests of myo-inositol in metabolic diseases. Biochimie. 2013 Oct;95(10):1811-27. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2013.05.011. Epub 2013 Jun 10. PMID: 23764390.
[xiv] Hursel, R., Viechtbauer, W., Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2009). The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity, 33(9), 956-961. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.135.
[xv] Ziegler, D., Hanefeld, M., Ruhnau, K. J., Hasche, H., Lobisch, M., Schütte, K., ... & Wittfoht, W. (1999). Treatment of symptomatic diabetic peripheral neuropathy with the anti-oxidant alpha-lipoic acid. A 3-week multicentre randomized controlled trial (ALADIN Study). Diabetologia, 42(5), 629-635. doi: 10.1007/s001250051204.
[xvi] Newsholme, P., Procopio, J., Lima, M. M., Pithon-Curi, T. C., Doi, S. Q., Bazotte, R. B., & Curi, R. (2003). Glutamine and glutamate—their central role in cell metabolism and function. Cell Biochemistry and Function, 21(1), 1-9. doi: 10.1002/cbf.1003.
[xvii] Samuni, Y., Goldstein, S., Dean, O. M., & Berk, M. (2013). The chemistry and biological activities of N-acetylcysteine. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects, 1830(8), 4117-4129. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2013.04.016.
Dong, H., Wang, N., Zhao, L., Lu, F. (2012). Berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 1-12. doi: 10.1155/2012/591654.
[xix] Belcaro, G., Luzzi, R., Cesinaro Di Rocco, P., Cesarone, M.R., Dugall, M., Feragalli, B., ... & Hosoi, M. (2015). Pine bark extract for glycemic control in patients with diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytotherapy Research, 29(2), 159-165. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5236.
[xx] Epel, E. S., McEwen, B., Seeman, T., Matthews, K., Castellazzo, G., Brownell, K. D., ... & Ickovics, J. R. (2000). Stress and body shape: stress-induced cortisol secretion is consistently greater among women with central fat. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62(5), 623-632. doi: 10.1097/00006842-200009000-00011.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.