Natural Alternatives to Insulin
You will have definitely heard of insulin and its close relationship with conditions like diabetes. But, do you know exactly what role it plays in the body and why it is so important? We at oneHOWTO realise injecting insulin is not the most pleasant experience for diabetes sufferers. That is why we will explore all elements of insulin and review some natural alternatives to it. As always, we must stress that you should always consult your doctor before self-medicating. To find out more, keep reading our article: natural alternatives to insulin.
What is insulin and why do we need it?
Insulin is a hormone produced and secreted by our pancreas, specifically, by beta cells found in an area known as the Islets of Langerhans. This hormone is released by the pancreas when levels of glucose or sugar in our blood are high. Then it begins it's important metabolic function through which the cells of our bodies are able to absorb glucose and convert it into energy. This enables us to perform our daily tasks without getting tired and with the best disposition. Thanks to this release of insulin, we can, e.g., feel more energetic after a high-sugar meal.
Besides allowing glucose to enter cells and be used by our body as energy, insulin also performs the following functions:
- Prevents the fat stored in our cells and muscles to be used to release energy into the bloodstream. In a normal situation this fat is for our liver to produce energy in extreme conditions. For example, when we go for a long time without food, or, so that the muscles can have energy without the need to take glucose from our blood. But, when insulin secretion fails, the liver begins to produce energy using stored fat, our muscles weaken and threaten the proper functioning of the body.
- It stimulates protein synthesis to allow us have healthier muscles.
- It stimulates the synthesis of fatty acids and facilitates triglyceride synthesis.
- Insulin also inhibits the ability of our body to burn fat and stimulates the body's ability to store fat. When we follow a balanced and healthy diet, this is not a problem. However, if our diet is rich in fats, sugars and carbohydrates, insulin levels increase and the removal of fat becomes more difficult, leading to weight gain and obesity. This is one of the reasons that obesity is one of the most common risk factors of diabetes.
When insulin is not released properly or does it in very small amounts, or, if for any reason, our body is unable to use insulin properly, sugar builds up in our blood to excessive and dangerous levels, giving way to the common and well-known chronic disease - diabetes.
Diabetes and insulin
There are two types of diabetes that occur for different reasons and in different stages of life; these are:
- Type 1 diabetes: It occurs in children, teenagers or young people. It occurs when, for some reason, the body has trouble producing insulin or does it in very low amounts. To treat this type of diabetes, patients usually require insulin injections to ensure the correct levels of sugar in the body.
- Type 2 diabetes: It occurs in adults and is the most common form of diabetes. In this case the body produces insulin but the cells do not respond properly to it. The pancreas still produces more of this hormone, meaning that sugar accumulates excessively in the blood. This condition is known as insulin resistance and, if it is detected early and a major lifestyle change is assumed, diabetes can be prevented. However, when sugar levels reach their maximum, this chronic condition is inevitable.
Natural alternatives to insulin
Diabetes is the 6th cause of death in the United States. The key to combatting this is to balance your blood sugar now, before you get sick. Jon Barron, a member of the Health Sciences Institute Advisory Panel tested several herbs on diabetes sufferers. He thought, since we take natural supplements for cholesterol and blood pressure, it was time for a natural solution to diabetes. Let's take a look at some of the herbs he examined:
- Fenugreek (pictured below) is a spice commonly found in Asian kitchens. It contains steroidal saponins which lowers the cholesterol level in our body. However, you need to bear in mind that this spice has some contraindications. Fenugreek should not be consumed by pregnant women, as it may spark a miscarriage.
- In India they call gymnema sylvestre, a traditional Ayurvedic diabetes remedy, "the sugar destroyer." A protein in the plant reduces cravings for sugar and may actually prevent you from digesting some sugar you DO consume. It also seems to regenerate pancreas cells, allowing your body to produce more insulin. In an 18-month gymnema study by Jon Barron, most test subjects were able to reduce their medication, and some were able to get rid of drugs altogether.
- Bitter melon (momordica charantia) contains at least three components that act on blood sugar. Clinical trials have confirmed its effectiveness at managing glucose levels. Ayurvedic science uses bitter melon as a particular medicine, which has shown some promise as a diabetes treatment in an animal. It has not been tested widely yet.
- Banaba leaf extract (not to be confused with banana) has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes by up to 30%. It also helped the people in the trial keep tighter control over glucose fluctuations. Also, banaba seems to encourage weight loss without any major dietary changes.
- A cinnamon extract called Cinnulin PF can ramp up the overall effectiveness of the supplement. Cinnulin PF actually works to make insulin receptor sites on your body cells more receptive - meaning your body can use its own insulin more efficiently. It has a specific property to impact glucose metabolism that reduces blood sugar levels.
- Konjac mannan is a potent herb you've probably never heard of, but has been proven effective in clinical trials. In a 65-day trial, 72 patients with adult-onset diabetes who took konjac mannan saw their fasting blood sugar levels drop an average of 51.8 percent. Their levels after eating dropped by a humungous 84.6 percent!
Vitamins for diabetes
As with most conditions, your vitamin intake can combat the issue and improve your overall health. Let's take a look at some vitamins and supplements and their properties in relation to insulin.
- Vitamins B6 and B12 support nerve health. Hence, these vitamins are critical for addressing conditions such as diabetic neuropathy.
- Vitamin C is a well-known name which lowers the sugar level. The presence of sorbitol named sugar in the blood can damage cells in the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Vitamin C is known to lower your sorbitol. It is recommended to take at least 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily.
- Vitamin D, in turn, boosts the production of antimicrobial peptides called cathelicidins. These destroy viruses, bacteria, and other germs. People with diabetes are more prone to infections due because of diabetic ulcers and periodontal diseases. Vitamin D also makes that sure your body has optimal levels of this fat-soluble vitamin to boost your system and release the level of insulin which actually prevents diabetes.
- Vitamin E is known to help in the anti-oxidation process in our body. It firstly controls over glucose level. Secondly, it protects blood vessels and nerves from free-radical damage, which is accelerated by diabetes. Try to take only the natural form of it.
- Magnesium is a mineral that is crucial for energy production and protein synthesis. It also supports for cellular replication and DNA production. Magnesium decreases insulin resistance in a remarkable way and can act as a good insulin replacement. It is a trace mineral that improves the action of insulin and helps move glucose and other nutrients into the blood cells. Also, it helps to keep blood sugar levels in check.
Can I stop injecting insulin?
Diabetes is a serious condition and you should never stop a course of medication without consulting your doctor first. Under any circumstances. Whilst these natural alternatives have shown immensely positive results when tested on diabetes sufferers, the truth is that there has not been enough research to deem them the be all and end all. Having said this, all of these natural herbs and vitamins are recommended to support a healthy and happy body. Just be extra careful if you are pregnant or have any other mental condition that may interfere with your consumption.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Natural Alternatives to Insulin, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.