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  • Jaime DeGuzman, L.Ac

Could insulin be causing type-2 Diabetes?

Updated: Aug 25

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is a chronic and progressive disorder that can lead to blindness, amputation, kidney disease and heart disease.

Depending if your body produces insulin or not, diabetes is divided into two main categories: type-1 (insulin dependent), type-2 (insulin resistant). This discussion is about type-2 diabetes.

The standard treatment protocol for type-2 diabetes

For more than 50 years, the medical establishment has been “treating” type-2 diabetes by lowering blood sugars. The treatment protocol starts by giving patients a single drug, typically Medformin. This drug keeps the blood sugar levels low for a few months to a few years, but eventually a second drug needs to be prescribed, typically Glyburide, to deal with the continuing rising levels of blood sugar. As the disease progresses and blood sugar levels remain high, patients are given insulin. Insulin, being the last resource, is increased throughout the life of the patient.

In order to demonstrate the efficacy of the standard treatment protocol for type-2 diabetes, a study (Accord Study) (1) was conducted in 2008. Unfortunately, researchers had to stop the study after 3 years because the patients were getting worse. Three additional studies were done after the Accord study and the results were shocking. All indicated that treating blood sugar made no difference.

The problem with the standard protocol for treating type-2 diabetes

The problem is that after years of following this treatment protocol the diabetes never improves. In fact, it gets worse, with more and more insulin needed to keep increasing levels of blood sugar down. Diabetes type 2 patients treated with medication and insulin are never cured. You will never hear a diabetic patient say they were on insulin for a few months and now they don’t have diabetes anymore.

Diabetes gets worse because it is never treated. What’s being treated with this protocol is the symptom, high blood sugar. The disease is about high insulin resistance and not high blood sugar. High blood sugar is just a symptom of the disease. Lowering blood sugar is not going to cure the disease, and that’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that type-2 diabetes is a chronic, progressive disease.

Is type-2 diabetes really a chronic progressive disease?

An interesting study published in April of 2012 by the New England Journal of Medicine questioned the statement about diabetes being a chronic and progressive disease. The study titled “Bariatric Surgery versus Intensive Medical Therapy in Obese Patients with Diabetes” (2) compared a group of type-2 diabetics who followed the standard treatment protocol (medication) against a second group of type-2 diabetics who had weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery). In the course of 12 months, the patients taking the drugs didn’t get any better and had to continue taking the same medicine. Within 3 months, the patients that had the surgery started to reduce the amount of medication. By the end of 12 months most patients were completely off all their medication.

The study strongly suggests that type-2 diabetes is not chronic and is not progressive as the American Diabetes Association and the World Health Organization would like us to believe. In fact, according to this study, and several others that came after this one, type-2 diabetes is not only reversible, but is reversible in a short period of time. Other studies with these types of surgeries (gastric banding, stomach stapling, etc.) show that patients who were taking 500 units of insulin prior to the surgery, were able to decrease their insulin to zero units within one month after the surgery. In other words, diabetics who had surgery quickly recover from this “chronic and progressive” disease.

The role of insulin

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the beta cells in our pancreas with the main goal of transporting glucose into our cells so that our cells can use it as energy. After all the cells have used all the glucose that they need, insulin transports all the leftover glucose to the liver – where it is stored to be used as energy at a later time. When we over eat we generate leftover glucose, and the liver cells gradually begin to fill up, and eventually stop accepting more glucose. At that point, blood sugar goes up and doctors prescribe insulin injections.

Making a bad condition worse

By injecting ourselves with more insulin, we give the glucose that initially was not able to get inside the already overfilled liver cells a second chance to get in. Because almost every liver cell is already filled up, very little glucose can be absorbed. This creates an overflow condition known as insulin resistance.

Fatty liver

As part of the energy-storing function of the liver, the liver converts glucose into fat, which can be used at a later time for energy. The more glucose that is shoved into the liver cells, the more fat that the liver stores. If this fat is never used for energy, eventually the liver will become filled with fatty deposits (“fatty liver” or NAFLD – Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease). The degree of insulin resistance is directly related to the amount of fat in the liver.

How do we fix it?

Fasting. When we don’t eat, sugar and fat are released from the liver so that it can be used as energy. By fasting, you pull all the excess fat from the liver, and reduce insulin resistance. Eventually, the fat from the pancreas is removed as well and Beta cell dysfunction is reversed – the pancreas starts to produce its own insulin. Walking is a great way to burn excess fat and sugar. By reducing the amount of fat and sugar, increasing the amount of vegetables in our diets, and establishing an aerobic exercise routine, most type-2 diabetics are able to have normal pancreatic functions and normal blood sugar levels. (3)

The TCM view

Although classified nowadays as a modern disease, diabetes or Xiao-Ke (wasting and thirsting) first appeared in one of the most important written works of Traditional Chinese Medicine (The Yellow Emperor) over 2,000 years ago. The disease is divided into three types: upper, middle and lower. The upper type is associated with the lungs and is characterized by excessive thirst. The middle type is associated with the stomach and is characterized by excessive hunger, and the lower type is associated with the kidneys and is characterized by excessive urination. As the disease progresses, it is common to see patients manifesting symptoms of all three types.

The main etiology of Xiao-Ke is improper diet (consuming large quantities of sweets, fatty foods, and alcohol). Also, as in any disorder, the emotions play a big part in the development of type-2 diabetes; excessive sadness and grief can damage the Lungs, excessive worrying can damage the Stomach/Spleen, and excessive fear can damage the Kidneys. When dealing with strong emotions it’s common for some people to binge on eating unhealthy foods.

Clinical and experimental studies have demonstrated that acupuncture has a beneficial effect on lowering blood sugar levels. Auricular acupuncture, inserting needles into specific points on the ear, has shown to be very effective. To deal with the emotions, a point on the ear called Shen Men (Calm the Spirit or Spirit Gate) can be used. The Lung, Stomach and Kidney points are very accessible on the ear and are used frequently when treating Xiao-Ke. Additionally, the pancreas point on the ear is needled to regulate insulin.

The NADA Protocol is a great treatment protocol to treat addictions. Food is treated as an addiction just like any other substance. If you have type-2 diabetes, or you are pre-diabetic, and you are having difficulties controlling what and how much you eat, consider making an appointment.

1. Accord study link: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/accord-clinical-trial-publishes-results

2. NEJM link: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa1200225

3. WJD link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4914832/

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