Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Experimenting Food Supplements for Self Managing Type-2 Diabetes

A couple of years ago, I too joined the growing community of diabetic patients. All of a sudden, I discovered that my normal blood sugar levels are no more within the limits prescribed by learned medical researchers. The practice of visiting the doctor at regular intervals and the practice of extracting blood samples began as a routine.

For a couple of months, it was abstinence from free sugar intake, that was tried for control of blood sugar level. So, coffee, tea and other sugar drinks became bitter. Soon, diet control had to be discarded as it became ineffective. Various  Ayurvedic  and homeopathic medicines as available in the market too became not so effective. Then the doctor decided it was time for the chemical drugs of modern medicine.

It began with Metformin slow release tablet 500 mg once a day, only to be supplemented by Glimipiride 1 mg. In a couple of months, that too was not enough and the doctor was inclined to prescribe higher dosages and perhaps other possible combinations of diabetic drugs as available now (see this chart).

Experienced diabetic seniors have all gone through this regime and they knew that this disease is not manageable by oral tablets for a long time. Sooner or later, they have to inject insulin into their bodies for making up the shortfall of this hormone which is otherwise produced by the endocrine gland called pancreas. 

It is believed that several health problems that people have are due to hormonal imbalances within the body. Hormones are complex chemicals produced by some glands or organs within the body. These complex chemicals are circulated in the blood circulation system in small quantities for helping the body to perform various functions such as digestion, growth, etc.

When hormones are absent, more or less in the body, various health problems arise. The hormone producing glands of the body start behaving abnormally due to various reasons, the most prominent being ageing. Besides, absence of certain micro nutrients within food could also cause hormone imbalances.

One of the common ailment that a good majority of humans develop at some stage of life is due to the imbalance of the hormone called insulin which is produced by the body organ called pancreas. Insulin is essential for the body to convert carbohydrates and sugars in the food to energy and to convert excess sugars to fats to be stored up in the body for future use. Insulin helps in the control of sugar concentration in the blood within certain limits.

When insulin production by pancreas gets affected due to some reason, the result is the debilitating, but mostly manageable disease called Diabetes mellitus (DM) or simply, diabetes. There are a few types of diabetes. But the most common that the majority of people have is the type-2 diabetes. I, too have type-2 diabetes.

There are various methods by which diabetes can be treated or managed. Modern medicine (Allopathy),  homeopathy,  Ayurveda  and other systems all have some kind of medicines and methods for the management of diabetes. But none of these systems provide a permanent cure to the disease. Complications due to high blood sugar affects the person seriously at some later stage of life. However, the quality of life could be made better by adopting proper diabetes management procedures.

When the pancreas has got some ability to produce insulin, medicines and drugs could be used to enhance the insulin production. But when this organ become fully dysfunctional, insulin injection practices may have to be followed.

But, there are several food or dietary supplements, mostly originating from herbs, that are said to provide some benefits to diabetic patients. These are mostly herbal products that are being experimented world wide which are said to have some beneficial effects for various kinds of ailments that people have. These products do not qualify as drugs or medicines as the research work on them are not fully proven in accordance with the scientific norms and are not approved by the statutory drug approving authorities. Essentially, these dietary supplements when consumed help the body to obtain some form of  chemical molecules or elements that are essential for the body through the digestive system. These micro nutrients are essential for the body to synthesize the complex hormones.   

Food supplements have some beneficial effects and may not have much detrimental effects when consumed within some reasonable limits. They can be thought as similar to vitamins and minerals that are essential for proper functioning of our biological bodies.

One such supplement is derived from the plant called Gymnema sylvestre. It is found in India and is called Chakkarakkolli (in Malayalam) and Gurmari (in Hindi) both literally meaning destroyer of sugar.

Gymnema as a dietary supplement has been widely accepted for its benefits especially for the management of type-2 diabetes. Extracts from this plant in the form of capsules and powder are now marketed in many countries. Consuming one or two capsules daily has been reported as useful by several patients in controlling their blood sugar levels. 

Gymnema dietary supplements can now be procured online from reputed online market places such as Amazon. In India it is available in various forms as produced and marketed by various firms under various trade names such as Zenith Nutrition Gymnema capsules, Gymnema Meshashringi Diabetic Support capsules, Gymnema Herbal Powder, Gymnivit Gymnema Powder Capsules, etc.

It is not a bad idea to have some self experiments with these products for the management of diabetes. However, it is important to have as much information as possible before such experiments are tried out and to monitor the blood sugar level changes during such self management regimes. Having a glucometer and its test strips at home may prove useful. (More options here!) 

Another item that may be of interest to diabetic patients is the natural sweetener called Stevia. The purified sweetener powder obtained from Stevia plants can be safely used to sweeten food and beverages without worrying about enhancing blood sugar levels. Now Stevia powder can be ordered online in India too.

When we discuss about the management of common diabetes, it is not justified if I avoid mentioning about Ayurveda, the ancient medical system of India. This system has many cures for diabetes. Unfortunately, not all Ayurveda doctors are confident of their system of medicine. Incidentally I have been trying this system and have found much benefit in bringing my blood sugar levels under control. Since, successful Ayurveda medicines and formulations are still confidential secrets of many successful practitioners, I would not be in a position to provide more details about those medicines through which I got benefits. For example, this product is marketed as an ayurvedic supplement for diabetic control which contains Gurmari and other ayurvedic ingredients.

So, if you are not scared to experiment, try out and share your experiences here. That may be of help to those interested.

I would also suggest my readers to share their experiences in this context using the comment tool below in this page.

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