The incidence of type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing in Australia. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs in overweight people over the age of 40, frequently with a family history of diabetes. Type 2 diabetics have high blood sugar levels which, if unmanaged, lead to a range of serious health problems affecting the eyes, kidneys, nerves and circulation. The mainstay of management is a balanced diet, losing excess weight and maintaining regular exercise. Medication is used when addressing these lifestyle factors is inadequate to achieve healthy blood sugar levels.
Unlike type 1 diabetes which usually shows up in younger people insulin is not usually needed. Managing alcohol consumption and stopping smoking are critical to minimising complications. Type 2 diabetes is another of the so called lifestyle diseases because as you can see the disease can often be prevented or managed by lifestyle factors alone. Because diabetes can affect many systems it is usual to be under the care of a GP, optometrist, dietician and podiatrist. Complementary medicine can play a useful role both for those not yet on medication as well as those who require it.
- A number of strategies can stimulate weight loss in stubborn cases, and once again for many people a professionally supervised liver detox program can kick start the process. Avoiding excess energy rich carbs such as bread and added sugar is often another key.
- Acupuncture has a role with points that are useful in regulating blood sugar as well as points that can improve immune function and circulation.
- Many herbs and nutrients have an effect on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. Cinnamon and chromium are well known for their effects on blood sugar, and the Chinese herbs Huang Qi, Shu Di Huang and Dan Shen are among herbs often used in treatment.
Because herbs, nutrients and a change in diet can lower blood sugar, it is possible that blood sugar can be lowered too much resulting in hypoglycaemia. For this reason it is important to be professionally supervised so that the programme is tailored to individual needs. It is better to seek professional care rather than “doing it yourself” and any one of our Chinese medicine or naturopathic team is able assist with a programme.