Naturopathic approaches to diabetes

Diabetes is well-known to most as being a condition characterized by having high blood sugar. Most diabetics will also know that when they go in to the lab every 3 months, they are also being checked for an elevated hemoglobin A1C, which is an average of the blood sugar readings over the last 3 months.

Diabetes is relatively simple: the cells of the patient cannot, for a variety of reasons, utilize sugar efficiently, and thus instead of having sugar go from the blood into the cell where it is needed, the sugar stays in the blood, giving elevated readings. This is a problem because many of the complications of diabetes are associated with the damaging effects of high sugar, potentially leading to nerve problems, kidney problems, and blood vessel problems. 

While diabetes is a multi-factorial problem with the possibility of many different attributing factors, including hormonal imbalances such as with cortisol and insulin, I have found that in my experience that often drugs may not have to be used initially. The underlying cause may be treated, and the which may be an inefficient utilization of sugar, and the subsequent inefficient production of energy.  In my opinion, Diabetes may be considered an energy-generation problem, a glucose-utilization problem.

Carbohydrates are converted into a molecule called acetyl-coA, and then this transformed molecule goes through a whole series of reactions to “activate” NAD and FADH (these are B-vitamins). The NADH and FADH2 (activated B-vitamins) in essence carry the electrons from sugar and combine with oxygen in order to produce a large amount of energy.  

In diabetics, this process does not occur efficiently.  Thus the sugar stays outside of the cell, leading to the diagnosis of diabetes.  Conventional medicine focuses on the inability of cells to get the sugar from the blood, into the cell. This involves drug therapies, with agents such as glyburide. Some naturopathic treatments focus not on forcing the sugar into the cell but instead I focus on making the metabolism inside the cell work efficiently so that sugar flow into the cell comes on its own. In my experience, it may be effective as an adjunct and in some cases alone, and patients will feel good not only about lowering their blood sugars and A1C’s but also because weight may be lost and energy, productivity, and “vitality” may start to come back.

The naturopathic corrective program in treating diabetes:

The naturopathic treatment program is three-fold. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve any drugs, but correspondingly it does require consistent effort (in the beginning at least) in order to aggressively lower blood sugars and A1C. 

1. Diet changes: done correctly, an individualized diet may help patients to lose weight and help keep sugars under control. The diet involved depends on the stage and severity of the diabetes.

2. Exercise: the goal in the exercise program is to increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone which helps sugar to enter the cells and to leave the blood. Conventional drugs often focuses on insulin sensitivity and uses drugs to increase it. We can incorporate exercise not just to increase insulin sensitivity, but to help lose weight, improve body composition, and effect long-term changes. Furthermore, exercise produces similar changes in the body as the photox treatments described below. Vancouver weather may not always be conducive to exercise, but luckily the Vancouver population does seem to be very willing to incorporate exercise in a west-coast friendly manner. 

3. Ozone Treatments (major autohemotherapy) this is the treatment that aims at stimulating and restoring the cells efficient and proper use of sugar. In my experience, if efficiency can be restored, then often we will see energy will go up, clarity of thinking will go up, and blood sugars will go down. The treatment takes approximately 30 minutes and in most patients is done twice a week for 3 weeks, followed by once a week for 4 weeks.  One nice review summarizing possible mechanisms for ozone alone: Bocci V, Zanardi I, Huijberts MS, Travagli V. 2011.  Diabetes and chronic oxidative stress. A perspective based on the possible usefulness of ozone therapy. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2011 Jan-Mar;5(1):45-9.

Oral supplements? If indicated per the individual case. There are a number of herbal formulas that may help to lower blood sugar. If the particulars of an individual patient require supplementation (nutritional dependencies and deficiencies, stress, adrenal hormonal support, gastrointestinal support etc), then supplements may be recommended with the aim of balancing the system.

The initial naturopathic visit will consist of reviewing your history, diet, medication, and physical exam. Labs will be done to assess hormone levels (insulin resistance), often comprehensive baseline testing (as indicated as per history, physical exam), and then the diet, exercise, and ozone (major autohemotherapy) treatments may begin, often at the next visit.



References: Ozone (Major Autohemotherapy, other forms ozone therapy) & Diabetes


Bocci V, Zanardi I, Huijberts MS, Travagli V. 2011.  Diabetes and chronic oxidative stress. A perspective based on the possible usefulness of ozone therapy. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2011 Jan-Mar;5(1):45-9.


Bocci V, Zanardi I1, Huijberts MS, Travagli V. 2014. It is time to integrate conventional therapy by ozone therapy in type-2 diabetes patients. Ann Transl Med. 2014 Dec;2(12):117.


Bocci V, Zanardi I, Huijberts MS, Travagli V4. 2014. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2014 An integrated medical treatment for type-2 diabetes.  Jan-Mar;8(1):57-61.


de Monte A, van der Zee H, Bocci V. 2005. Major ozonated autohemotherapy in chronic limb ischemia with ulcerations. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Apr;11(2):363-7.


Braidy N, Izadi M, Sureda A, Jonaidi-Jafari N, Banki A, Nabavi SF, Nabavi SM5. 2018. Therapeutic relevance of ozone therapy in degenerative diseases: Focus on diabetes and spinal pain. J Cell Physiol. 2018 Apr;233(4):2705-2714.