When the term “diabetes” is mentioned, the reflex is to think of being overweight, obese and poor nutrition. It is true that this pathology affects a population often overweight, but not only.
Type 2 diabetes, a veritable insidious disease, represents a major public health issue with almost 80% of Health Insurance expenditure devoted to the complications of the disease.
Current allopathy only allows a slowdown in the progression of diabetes. And after a few years, the drug molecules lose their effectiveness: we then witness a therapeutic escalation towards insulin therapy.
The alternative with the hope of a possible remission (even cure) is currently focusing on the primary cause: overweight, with prevention campaigns organized around sport and food. The beta cells of the pancreas, asleep (in response to cellular insulin resistance), wake up after disappearance of fats and sugars; we then approach diabetes, no longer as a progressive disease but as a reversible disease.
Although a rebalancing in food is essential and essential, alternative medicines have their place. In addition to a follow-up by a dietitian / nutritionist and a specific protocol carried out by a gastroenterologist / endocrinologist, the patient can turn to many complementary therapies . Indeed, even if the diagnosis is late, certain behaviors can, failing to avoid, delay its onset, stabilize its course and limit its complications.
Xavier Pietri, osteopath, explains to us how certain natural therapies help stabilize the development of diabetes and limit its complications.
Diabetes and homeopathy
A real asset in terms of prevention or in early diabetes, homeopathic medicines can help limit the progression of the disease. We can cite among the most frequent prescriptions:
Calcarea carbonia: indicated in case of overweight, sedentary lifestyle, or in the case of a tendency to eat too much, especially indigestible and sweet foods.
Sulfur: in case of excess food, consumption of alcohol and tobacco, and lack of a healthy lifestyle (Sulfur 9CH, 5 granules morning and evening).
Lycopodium: if diabetes is combined with long-standing liver and digestive problems. Also in the case of a particular appetite for starchy foods and sweet foods – note a hunger accompanied by a bad mood. (Lycopodium 7CH, 5 granules morning and evening).
Bryonia Alba: appetite is important especially for meat and proteins in general. There is a significant thirst, with a desire for large quantities of cold water. The patient refuses the vegetables. (Bryonia Alba 9CH, 5 granules morning and evening).
Hélonias: on a beginner diabetes.
Syzygium or Glycerinium: on already installed diabetes.
Phosphorus: appetite is important, even uncontrollable, and thirst is intense. The pancreas is vulnerable as well as the entire vascular system. Phosphorus can intervene at all stages of diabetes, including preventing complications.
The homeopathic treatment only supplements the hygieno-dietetic measures and the allopathic anti-diabetic treatments.
In addition, the examples are given for information only.
Diabetes and herbal medicine
Herbal medicine can be helpful in regulating the concentration of blood sugar. Faced with the risks associated with type 2 diabetes, it uses flavonoids , natural compounds from the polyphenol family. They are found in products like green tea, grapeseed, coffee, cocoa or red wine (be careful to stay measured in the consumption of caffeine, chocolate, and, of course, red wine ). Known for their antioxidant properties, flavonoids also play an important role in the inhibition of glycation. What is glycation?
Herbal medicine has recently made significant progress in regulating blood sugar, which is the concentration of glucose in the blood.
When this blood sugar is too high, we observe a particular reaction: the glycation of proteins. The “glycated” proteins start to fix glucose molecules and foul the cells. This phenomenon causes cell damage, damages blood vessels and helps accelerate the aging of tissues. Protein glycation is also the cause of major health problems like diabetes. A diet too rich in sugars, associated with low physical activity and the consumption of tobacco or alcohol, leads to the glycation of insulin, the main role of which is to lower the level of glucose in the blood. Glycated insulin is then no longer able to fulfill its mission, which accelerates the general glycemic imbalance.
In addition to drug or nutritional treatments, certain plants are effective in reducing fasting blood sugar and other parameters of type 2 diabetes. We can cite:
Nettle: with its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and hypoglycemic properties, nettle helps prevent certain complications of diabetes such as liver damage or cardiovascular disease.
Aloe vera: various studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing blood sugar and glycated hemoglobin. Also, it would stimulate the release of insulin, lowering the blood sugar level.
Broccoli extract: a concentrated broccoli extract would reduce blood sugar by 10% in patients with type 2 diabetes. Sulforaphane, a compound strongly present in broccoli and cruciferous vegetables, would act accordingly on blood sugar.
Cinnamon: well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, a lot of research has been done on cinnamon, attesting to hypoglycemic effects.
Berberine: also called barberry (Berberis vulgaris), berberine was used to treat gastrointestinal infections. Researchers have discovered its hypoglycemic power. Used by Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and supported by a meta-analysis, berberine could be the new weapon against type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes states.
Diabetes and acupuncture
Acupressure is a very effective treatment for diabetes because it helps control the level of sugar in the blood. Studies have shown that acupuncture can be helpful in relieving the symptoms of diabetes.
A study by researchers in Beijing, China, examined how specific acupuncture points help improve the symptoms of diabetes. They found that within 3 weeks, the rat models had lower glucose levels, increased insulin levels, and improved glucose intolerance.
Acupuncture and osteopathy
A literature review published in 2016 in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine reviewed relevant articles from 2008 to 2015 to determine if acupuncture was a valid treatment for insulin resistance and to assess the possibility that acupuncture serve as a future treatment for insulin sensitivity. The results of the literature review suggest that low-intensity, low-frequency electro-acupuncture may help reduce insulin resistance and increase insulin sensitivity. Electro-acupuncture can be used alone or in combination with other treatments, including alternative therapies, such as diet and Chinese herbs.
In 2015, Acupuncture in Medicine reviewed a group of studies combining electro-acupuncture with an anti-diabetic drug called metformin to look for better blood sugar responses and increased insulin sensitivity. The researchers found that the electro-acupuncture-metformin combination offered better blood sugar lowering effects and greater insulin sensitivity than metformin alone.
None of the studies appear to have addressed the processes and mechanisms that may explain the exact functioning of acupuncture in the management of diabetes symptoms.
We can cite some points frequently used to control diabetes:
Back knee point,
Foot pressure point,
The look of Chinese medicine
In the treatment of type 2 diabetes, Western medicine aims to compensate for the insulin deficiency in the forms of diabetes known as “insulin dependent”, or to restore the capacity of the cells of the body to absorb glucose in response to the presence of insulin (case of so-called “non-insulin dependent” diabetes)
Chinese medicine sees it differently.
Above all, there are two important concepts in Chinese medicine. These are the theory of Yin and Yang and the theory of the Triple Home , known as San Jiao in Chinese. The theory of yin and yang states that everything is made up of opposing but interdependent elements – yin and yang.
In nature, the examples of mutually dependent and yet opposite elements are innumerable, such as the alternation of the seasons, day and night and even on the scale of the microcosm (the positive and negative charges of protons and electrons, but still insulin and glucagon).
This theory is applied in Chinese medicine in its approach to the structure of the human body as well as in understanding the etiology of the diseases and treatments offered. For example, the upper part of the body is considered as yang, the lower part as yin, the different organs also correspond to these two principles. Poor health is conceived as due to an imbalance between these “breaths”, by the domination of one element over the other. Good health means getting the harmony of these elements.
The theory of San Jiao or Triple Home is a system used in the diagnosis of diseases. A disease is classified according to its location in the upper, middle or lower focus. These refer to the upper, middle and lower parts of the body, respectively. Each household also corresponds to a set of organs. This system is mainly used in the practice of Chinese herbal medicine.
In Chinese, diabetes is called Xiao ke or “useless thirst syndrome”. The cause of this syndrome is understood as a lack of Yin (female principle, symbolized by the moon, the shadow …) in the body, combined with pathogenic heat affecting the lungs, stomach and kidneys. When the yin is deficient, heat is produced, in the same way, when heat is present, it “consumes” the yin.
Thus, the most common symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst, hunger and the urge to urinate, associated respectively with the upper (the thirsty mouth), the middle (the hungry stomach) and the lower (the bladder to empty).
Diabetes is identified as a global disharmony linked to a yin deficiency.
In Chinese medicine, people who indulge in alcohol, mild or fatty foods and have an unstable, unhealthy or sedentary lifestyle are considered to have the tendency to develop Xiao ke syndrome. Emotional disturbances can also favor Xiao ke. The lack of yin is manifested by lethargy, weakness and a pale complexion. The energy channels are blocked, causing stagnation or thickening of the blood. Finally, “toxic heat” is produced. What consumes the fluids of vital organs causes dysfunction and disorder between the lungs, stomach and kidneys.
Unlike our Western medicine, Chinese medicine does not measure the glucose level in the blood of patients. Rather, it applies individualized treatment to address and treat the symptoms of individual patients.
Chinese medicine and diabetes
When it comes to diabetes, Chinese medicine takes a so-called ” holistic ” approach , encompassing and makes detailed observations on the current condition of patients. It does this through a four-point diagnosis: observe, listen or feel, touch and question. The exam includes the analysis of the shape, color and volume of the tongue, the color and expression of the face, the smell of the breath and the body and the strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse.
Chinese herbs can help fill the yin deficiencies that contribute to diabetes. Depending on the individual case, herbs are prescribed which will stimulate yin in the lungs, stomach, spleen or kidneys. One can also resort to acupuncture.
Like Western medicine, Chinese medicine emphasizes healthy eating to promote good health. However, his understanding of the impact of food on the body is different: it is the energy properties of food that determine their therapeutic effectiveness and not their nutritional value.
For example, spinach is said to refresh, strengthen organs, quench thirst and activate urination. Bamboo shoots and bok choy also have a refreshing effect, celery tones the kidneys and removes heat, waxy squash is quite effective in regulating blood sugar.
Herbal medicine constitutes the heart of the treatment of diabetes by traditional Chinese medicine. The most effective plants, non-toxic, which have a certain effectiveness according to ancient books are: blueberry, bitter melon, onion, garlic, fenugreek (good when you fast and to lower the rate of sugar after meals), ginkgo biloba (which improves blood flow in the arms, legs, fingers and toes) and finally ginseng.
Diabetes and osteopathy
In this therapeutic approach, upstream of the declared disease, we can ask ourselves what role osteopathy can play in this pathology.
What place can it hold within the contemporary, multidisciplinary care of a patient with type 2 diabetes?
What can be the place of osteopathy in such a metabolic disease where the therapeutic response has so far been essentially linked to the taking of insulin, oral or injectable hypoglycemics and at the cost of rigorous dietetics. There is no question of questioning the genetic or immune etiopathogenesis of the disease. It must be admitted that the techniques which will improve or attempt to improve the glycemic curve by acting on the 3 key organs of the disease (Pancreas – Liver – Muscle) have already shown their efficiencies (however relative and not perennial). As we mentioned, in type 2 diabetes, it is important to differentiate an insulin abnormality and an insulin resistance of the liver cell,
1 – A neuroendocrine approach
A new, different approach focuses on another aspect of type 2 diabetes, in particular on the neuroendocrine transmission of GLP1, a key hormone in glycemic regulation.
Numerous studies and experiments over the past twenty years have attempted to shed light on what is called the intestine-brain axis. The enteric nervous system exchanges information with the brain through the “brain-gut” axis, which allows data to flow in both directions. When the food bolus enters the stomach, certain intestinal hormones (for example GLP-1, CCK or the peptide YY) are then secreted and activate a zone of passage going from the stomach, towards the brain and the hypothalamus , to curb food consumption.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, this axis is disturbed both organically and hormonally and nervous.
Medicine has developed therapeutic plans to combat this disease: from the most affordable with low-calorie and sports diets, to drug treatments (oral hypoglycemic agents) to insulin therapy. These measures, often cumbersome, costly and restrictive for patients, are quite often in therapeutic failure in type 2 diabetes. Although research is progressing on new less expensive and easier to use treatments, the results are not very encouraging and subject to many controversies. Osteopathy could be offered in addition to these traditional therapeutic areas to support the patient.
Research highlights the essential role of GLP1 in glycemic regulation via the entero-insular axis (intestine-brain axis). In type 2 diabetics, the signal sent by L cells from the intestinal epithelium (jejunum and ileum) to the portal vein then the central nervous system is interfered with and the function of insulin secretion disturbed (peripheral insulin resistance) .
Osteopathic treatment at the key points of passage of this afferent influx could help lower blood sugar and restore the functions associated with GLP1 (lower satiety for example). By releasing the main dysfunctions, the neuro-hormonal message of GLP1 could be effective again and make it possible to avoid the therapeutic escalation towards medication (oral hypoglycemic agents, GLP1 agonists or DPP4 inhibitors).
2 – Example of osteopathic diabetes management
In type 2 diabetic patients, osteopathic treatment allows action at different levels:
- it treats certain osteo-articular pains (often linked to overweight) and releases certain myofascial tensions,
- it allows better mobility at the abdominal level and partially restores (depending on the degree of involvement) the intestine-brain axis,
- it makes it possible to act on the central mechanisms using cranial osteopathy techniques.
The goal is to take into account all aspects of visceral dynamics: mobility, motility and fascial movement.
Action on the portal vein will allow better neuroendocrine exchange between the different organs.
The work on the vagus nerve will facilitate the passage of nerve impulses from the portal system to the central nervous system. The osteopath can focus on releasing: the floor of the 4th ventricle, the posterior torn hole, the neck fascia, the mediastinum and the pillars of the diaphragm .
Prevention and natural treatment of diabetes: what the Americans say
Whichever approach is chosen, the patient must be aware of the seriousness of the disease and especially of its consequences. Early management will have better results, but certain aspects of the proposed therapeutic arsenal should not be overlooked. A combination of several approaches will allow a regression or at least a stabilization of the evolution of type 2 diabetes, more durable and more effective over time. Thus was born the protocol applied for years by Dr. Whitaker in his Wellness Center in California. His approach takes up the main principles mentioned in the article above:
- Lose weight . According to Dr. Whitaker, losing weight is still the best way to beat type II diabetes. You have to be determined and change your lifestyle. The following key is essential when it comes to weight control in the case of diabetes.
- The diet . It must be based on the control of the glycemic index (GI) and of Mediterranean type, with an abundance of vegetables, proteins coming especially from fish and poultry. Limit the consumption of fruits and consume foods rich in fatty acids beneficial for health: olives, avocados, nuts and almonds, fish. Avoid all refined carbohydrates.
- Exercise . You don’t have to spend hours of torture at the gym. Dr. Whitaker recommends a 10-minute walk after meals and a few resistance sessions a week. Walking lowers blood sugar and burns calories. Strength exercises increase muscle mass and have a long-term effect on insulin resistance.
- Finally, supplements . You must protect yourself from complications of diabetes on the blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys, by using certain antioxidant supplements, vitamins and plants. Here is an example of a recommendation by Dr. Whitaker: in daily consumption, chromium (to facilitate the action and effectiveness of insulin at the level of cellular connections and on the sensitivity of body tissues to insulin) combined with vanadium (for sensitivity to insulin, especially on cell surface receptors), alpha lipoic acid, cinnamon and Gymnema sylvestre.