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Issue No 105
Winter 2005 
page 28

Herbs for Diabetes
The most common of the endocrine disorders, diabetes affects 18.2 million people in America - about 6.3% of the population, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes is the
fifth-deadliest disease
in the United States,
and it has no cure.
The total annual
economic cost of
diabetes in 2002 was
estimated to be $132
billion, or one out of
every 10 health care
dollars spent in the
United States.
—American
Diabetes
Association

 
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an needed to know, that could help?

The average lay person may find the technical language that surrounds any condition complicated and confusing. Interpreting a course of action is harder still. However, as with many diseases, once it’s demystified, a patient can move on from the initial shock, learning to manage his or her illness and find the best method of treatment.

For people living with diabetes, several conventional options are available, as well as a host of effective herbal approaches. Although not as widely administered, herbal therapy serves to diminish the symptoms of diabetes while addressing the root cause of the problem and, in conjunction with orthodox treatment, can put a diabetic on the road to better health.

Defining Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas, an endocrine gland that releases hormones directly into the bloodstream and supplies the upper intestine with enzymes to aid in the digestion of proteins, fats, sugars, and starches. The most common of the endocrine disorders, diabetes affects 18.2 million people in America—about 6.3 percent of the population, according to the American Diabetes Association. These individuals carry high levels of glucose (hyperglycemia) in their blood streams, while their cells contain inadequately little. Normally, a healthy pancreatic gland will manufacture the hormone insulin, which enables the body to utilize and store this sugar (glycogen), but once it becomes damaged and no longer secretes insulin, sugar is lost in the urine. This condition leads to diabetes.

Researchers have not located one precise cause or trigger of diabetes —the predisposing factor may be heredity, viral infection, age, obesity, or stress— but the disease can lead to weight loss, thirst, an increase in the volume of urine passed, and recurrent urinary infections. If untreated, complications can arise which may poorly affect circulation, and prove detrimental to eyesight, the kidneys, and the nervous system.

Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus, referred to as Type 1 diabetes, usually appears in childhood or adolescence, when the pancreas cannot produce insulin or produces an insufficient amount. Type 1 may eventually damage the eyes, kidneys, heart, and nerves, and can lead to coma or death. Regular doses of insulin, however, keep it under control, although individuals who have Type 1 often find maintaining the balance between insulin dosage and sugar intake challenging.

Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes, called Type 2 or adult onset diabetes, doesn’t usually appear until the early- to mid-forties or later. In most cases, the problem stems not from a lack of insulin, but from defective insulin receptors in the cell walls of fat and muscle tissue, and in the liver. Glucose, a major energy source for the body, is not successfully transferred to these organs, a condition referred to as insulin resistance. Although symptoms may not appear for years or decades, insulin deficiency or resistance can result in increased thirst and urination. If blood sugar levels soar, a diabetic may develop severe dehydration, which can lead to confusion, drowsiness, and

 
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