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Herbal medicine and diabetes mellitus – Part 4

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SCENT LEAF… Ocimum gratissimum (Nchuanwu in Ibo, Effirin in Yoruba)


Management of diabetes mellitus
In medicine to successfully treat any disease, the cause of the disease must be established. I have been able to show to a large extent that the cause(s) of diabetes mellitus are two fold. Firstly, diabetes can be caused by dehydration through the inhibiting action of Prostaglandin E (PgE) on the beta cells of the pancreas blocking the production of insulin. The function of insulin is to drive glucose into the cells when the level is higher than normal in the circulation. Not only that, potassium and water accompany the glucose into the cells. In a state of dehydration, this water entering into the cells deplete the already low level of free water in circulation. To prevent this from happening, PgE inhibits the release of insulin and redirects water to the pancreas. Apart from insulin production, the pancreas, produces a bicarbonate buffer solution, which neutralizes the acidic stomach contents when released into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine connected to the stomach).

Secondly, insulin resistance can cause diabetes. Insulin resistance is a condition that is characterised by hyperglycaemia, hypertension, low HDL (good) cholesterol and high LDL (bad) cholesterol. Others are high triglycerides, increased incidences of blood clots, increased rate of inflammation of the arteries and development of central obesity (weight gain mainly around the lower abdomen, giving an apple appearance. Insulin resistance occurs in response to hyperinsulinaemia, a condition that is common among those that consume a high glycaemic diet frequently. This is a high glucose diet that causes a glucose and insulin surge whenever it is eaten. After a long time of bombardment of the cells by insulin the cells begin to resist it and not responding appropriately. More and more insulin get released in a bid to force the high glucose in circulation into the cells. This continues to happen until such a time that the beta cells of the pancreas begin to get exhausted and fail in production of insulin. At this time, the blood level of glucose rises uncontrollably.

Research has also shown that diabetics are deficient in antioxidants such as chromium and vitamin E. Magnesium, which enhances the function of insulin, may also be deficient in diabetics.

In the management of diabetes, the following points should be borne in mind:
1. Hyperglycaemia is a sign of diabetes, which has an underlying cause.
2. The focus of treatment should be the cause and in this case, dehydration, insulin resistance and antioxidant deficiency.
3. The complications of diabetes, such as atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease and stroke, retinopathy (blindness), nephropathy (kidney failure) neuropathy and foot disease that can lead to amputation of a limb can be potentially fatal and early detection and proper treatment of diabetes can reduce mortality.
Water

The first thing to do is to ensure adequate hydration of the body by drinking sufficient water daily. Three to four litres of alkaline water daily are highly recommended. With proper hydration of the body there will be no need for PgE secretion, which inhibits release of insulin.
Diet

It is very important to get the diet right so as to prevent insulin resistance. The diet has to be changed from the high carbohydrate to the raw vegetables and fruits diet and other sources of good fats and proteins. Essentially, the aim is to change the energy source of the cells to fats and proteins from carbohydrates. Doing this reduces the demand of the cells for insulin, which has become seriously depleted anyway!

Sources of good proteins and fats are vegetables and vegetable oils such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocadoes, beans, soy, Brazil nuts, walnuts etc. The good fats that diabetics should be eating can also be found in cold-water fresh fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and Titus. These fats known as the free fatty acids, omega 3 and 6, actually help to reduce the cholesterol in circulation. Carbohydrates for the diabetic can be gotten from fresh whole fruits and vegetables. These carbohydrates being complex have to be broken down in the intestines before they are absorbed, thereby releasing them slowly into the circulation; this prevents the glucose and insulin surge that can cause insulin resistance on the long term. These vegetables and fruits not only contain carbohydrates, fats and proteins, they also contain a lot fiber, which helps to regulate the absorption of glucose and further prevent the glucose surge.


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