A few weeks ago I read an email from a reader that made me sad. In it, she said that given her daughter’s reliance on insulin, she had come to terms with the fact that in a true SHTF scenario, her daughter would die. Those of you that have read William Forstchen’s book, One Second After may recall that the main character’s daughter was a diabetic and died because of a lack of insulin.
I really had no words of wisdom to pass on to this reader. I am, after all, not a healthcare or medical professional. On the other hand, I did know that Backdoor Survival featured contributor Joe Alton, a medical doctor, has written extensively about diabetes in a survival situation. When I reached out to him for advice, he graciously agreed to address this topic in a newly refreshed article just for us.
If you, or someone you know has diabetes, you will find this article interesting. Just be aware that there has not been a lot of scientific studies proving that one remedy or another will be beneficial. Then again, the same applies to essential oils and we all know how well they work!
As you read though this list of natural remedies for diabetes, take special note of Joe’s last paragraph; it might surprise you.
Natural Remedies for Diabetes
One of the most difficult issues that the medic will encounter in a survival setting is that of chronic illness. Of these, diabetes is perhaps the most problematic. In the U.S., more than 29 million cases of diabetes were identified with more than 1 million requiring insulin therapy (type 1 diabetes). Diabetes causes damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, extremities, and more. It is the 7th leading cause of death in the country, and that’s in normal times.
What is diabetes? To understand this, you should know a little about how your body works to process food into energy. When you eat, food is turned into glucose, sometimes referred to as “sugar”. An organ in the body called the pancreas releases a substance called insulin in response. Insulin allows glucose to be used for energy.
In diabetes, this process doesn’t work due to various reasons. The pancreas may not produce enough insulin or certain factors may cause the body to be resistant to its effects (Type 2 diabetes).
We’ve discussed diabetes and survival in detail in a series of five articles some time ago; here’s a link to Part 1: Diabetes in a Collapse Situation.
In today’s article, we’ll explore some of the natural substances that may have a beneficial effect on diabetes. Alternative therapies encompass a variety of disciplines that include everything from diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes to herbal remedies, acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, and others.
It should be noted that a honest conversation with your medical caregiver is important before embarking on a new course of therapy. It’s also important to realize that it’s much more difficult to control type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes than the much more common type 2 (non-insulin dependent) with either conventional or alternative strategies.
Having said that, there are quite a few natural substances that have been put forth as being helpful in the control of diabetes . Most of these are thought to have effects on type 2 diabetics only. Unfortunately, there is a lack of hard scientific data on many, and variability exists in terms of effect on each individual.
Here are some natural substances, taken alphabetically, that may have a beneficial effect on glucose control:
Aloe may lower blood glucose in type 2 diabetics, especially when used in conjunction with some conventional oral drugs.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps decrease insulin resistance and the effects of kidney and nerve damage due to diabetes.
The leaf and seed of some types of Basil may help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. The seed may work by providing fiber which slows the elevation of blood sugar levels after meals.
Bilberry contains substances called anthocyanosides which improve blood flow which may prevent vessel damage caused by type 2 diabetes.
Bitter melon contains several substances, including some insulin-like compounds, that may lower blood sugars in type 2 diabetics.
Cayenne contains capsaicin, something we’ve talked about before as a form of natural pain relief. Indeed, capsaicin creams may improve pain due to damaged nerves in diabetics.
Gaye’s Note: See Make an Awesome Cayenne Salve for Pain Relief
Chromium supplements improve sensitivity to insulin in those resistant to it. It’s thought to be helpful in those who are pre-diabetic and in women with pregnancy-related diabetes.
Research suggests that regular intake of cinnamon may help reduce levels of blood glucose by augmenting the action of insulin.
Coenzyme Q10 (Co-Q10) is needed for normal blood sugar metabolism. Type 2 diabetics have been shown to have lower Co-Q10 levels than non-diabetics, suggesting that supplementation may be helpful in control.
Evening Primrose Oil
Studies have shown that 4 grams of evening primrose oil per day improves, over time, the pain associated with diabetic nerve damage.
Fenugreek may improve glucose control in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. It may even lower cholesterol in those with coronary artery disease.
Studies have shown that American Ginseng (there are several kinds) gives some sugar-lowering effects as well as a decrease in A1c levels (Hemoglobin A1C is a blood tests that measures long-term glucose control).
Glucomannan is fiber derived from konjac root (Amorphophallus konjac). It delays stomach emptying, which leads to slower absorption of dietary sugars which results in lower glucose levels after eating.
Gymnema leaves were documented in studies to raise insulin levels in healthy volunteers.
L-carnitine helps you utilize fat to produce energy. When people with diabetes were given L-carnitine, high blood levels of fats decreased, including triglycerides and cholesterol.
Type 2 diabetics often have low magnesium levels. Magnesium supplements are thought to increase insulin production in older people with type 2 diabetes.
Animal studies suggest that mistletoe can stimulate insulin secretion from pancreatic cells, which might decrease glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Onion contains allyl-propyl-disulphide (APDS), and certain flavonoids, such as quercetin (see below). APDS has been shown to prolong the effect of insulin and stimulate insulin production as well, thereby improving glucose control.
The fiber in psyllium may improve blood glucose in some diabetics.
Quercetin can help diabetics by reducing levels of sorbitol—a sugar that accumulates in nerves, kidneys and eyes of type 2 diabetics.
Vanadium is an element that, in preliminary studies, helped improve blood glucose levels in diabetic animals. When humans with type 2 diabetes were given Vanadium, a decrease in insulin resistance was noted.
Vitamin B1, B6, B7, B12
These vitamins are thought to be deficient in diabetics with neuropathy (nerve damage). Supplementation has been associated with improvement in related pain.
Taking Vitamin B7, also called Biotin, for two months dropped fasting glucose levels significantly in some patients.
Like Quercetin, vitamin C may reduce levels of sorbitol (see above). Also, 500 mg of Vitamin C twice a day decreases loss of protein in the urine in diabetics. High levels of protein in the urine are associated with poor outcomes among those with glucose issues.
Vitamin D is needed to maintain normal blood levels of insulin. The cells that produce insulin in the pancreas have receptors that accept vitamin D, suggesting that supplements might help improve sugar control.
People with type 2 diabetes are often zinc-deficient; adding some through the diet or supplements may correct the deficit.
The above list doesn’t take into account some techniques that aren’t associated with ingesting a substance, such as yoga and acupuncture. These methods are valid options, as is strict attention to diet, exercise, and lifestyle. All these can be incorporated as a component of a holistic approach to diabetes. Again, you can expect the effectiveness of alternative modalities to vary greatly from person to person.
You might be surprised to hear my belief that, in a true survival scenario, the condition of some type 2 diabetics may not worsen and, indeed, might even improve. The restrictions that we’ll see in our diet and the increased physical exertion necessary for activities of daily survival may have a positive effect, at least from a glucose standpoint.
Joe and Amy Alton are the authors of the 3 category #1 Amazon Bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook“. See their articles in Backwoods Home, Survival Quarterly, and other great magazines. For over 600 articles on medical preparedness in wilderness, disaster, or other austere settings, go to their website at www.doomandbloom.net. The opinions voiced by Joe Alton, M.D., and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P. are their own and are not meant to take the place of seeking medical help from a qualified healthcare provider.
The Final Word
Diabetes is often referred to as the silent killer because the symptoms can mimic other ailments or simply be ignored. My recommendation is that you educate yourself relative to those symptoms and of necessary, have your health care provider perform a simple blood sugar test. If diagnosed, consider incorporating some of these natural remedies into your daily routine and continue to monitor your progress.
As I like to say, knowledge is power, and knowing how to control diabetes with natural remedies could become a lifesaver down the road. Thinking out loud, many of the remedies listed above are quite commonplace; it simply makes sense to stockpile a few for the long term.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!