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. Being these numbers (which we can change and correct), there is little understanding by the patient of what is actually going on inside their bodies.


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 major problem because many of the complications of diabetes are due to direct toxic effects of high sugar, leading to nerve problems, kidney problems, and blood vessel problems (fatty build-up in the arteries). 


This is a very common complaint that I see amongst the immigrant population in Vancouver, as many Vancouver and Richmond Asians have a very high consumption of rice relative to their sedentary lifestyle.


While clearly diabetes is a multi-factorial problem with the possibility of many different causes, including hormonal imbalances such as with cortisol and insulin, I have found that the majority of time drugs, even hormones, do not have to be used. The underlying cause has to be treated, and the underlying cause is an inefficient utilization of sugar, and the subsequent inefficient production of energy. Diabetes is an energy-generation problem, a glucose-utilization problem.


Look at the picture below of what happens to a molecule of sugar inside healthy cell. 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. In my naturopathic treatments I 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. It can be remarkably effective, and patients will feel good not only about lowering their blood sugars and A1C’s but also because weight is lost and energy, productivity, and “vitality” comes back.


The naturopathic corrective program in treating diabetes:


The naturopathic treatment program that I’ve developed to correct the diabetes is three-fold. It doesn’t 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 can help patients to lose weight and help keep sugars under control. The diet involved depends on the stage and severity of the diabetes. Patients never feel hungry on the diet, as hunger is counter-productive to long-term changes in 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 medicine often focuses on insulin sensitivity and uses drugs to increase it. We 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. Photox treatments: this is the treatment that aims at stimulating and restoring the cells efficient and proper use of sugar. If efficiency can be restored, then 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. 


Oral supplements? Only if indicated per the individual case. There are many herbal formulas that help to lower blood sugar, but many of these are needed on a life-long basis unless the fundamental problem in diabetes is addressed. Thus, I prefer to use the above program. If the particulars of an individual patient require supplementation (nutritional dependencies and deficiencies, stress, adrenal hormonal support, gastrointestinal support etc), then we’ll use some supplements to help balance the system.


Diabetes, like most chronic medical conditions, is extremely amenable to naturopathic treatments. If the program is followed, there are very few diabetic cases where we can’t help, where we can’t lower the blood sugars and A1C.  If you are interested in starting a program for diabetes, please give me a call or email. If you know of a friend who has diabetes, and is interested in getting drug-free and symptom-free, please pass on the information. 


The initial naturopathic visit will consist of reviewing your history, diet, medication, and physical exam. Labs will be done to ensure optimal hormone levels (insulin resistance), and then the diet, exercise, and photox treatments will begin usually at the next visit.