“I am extremely pleased to see that technology developed in Tejal Desai’s group is getting to the point that we can explore this for therapeutic purposes,” Matthias Hebrok, PhD, the director of the Diabetes Center at UCSF and a member of Encellin’s scientific advisory board, noted on the UCSF website. “Encapsulation and protection of islet cells remain a critical hurdle that needs to be overcome before cell therapy becomes a reality in type 1 diabetes.”
In type 2 diabetes the body has an increasingly harder time to handle all the sugar in the blood. Large amounts of the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin are produced, but it’s still not enough, as insulin sensitivity decreases. At the time of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, diabetics usually have ten times more insulin in their bodies than normal. As a side effect, this insulin stores fat and causes weight gain, something that has often been in progress for many years before the disease was diagnosed.
A major feature of the disease is a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that moves glucose (sugar), from the bloodstream into the body’s cells where it is used for energy. For a variety of reasons that are not fully understood, the body’s tissues don’t respond adequately to insulin and glucose then becomes elevated in the bloodstream.
Big pharma are in the early stages of developing their own cell therapy approaches for diabetes. Novo Nordisk, one of the largest providers of diabetes treatments, is bidding for stem cells and an encapsulation device, stating that the first clinical trial could take place in the “next few years.” Sanofi, also a big name in diabetes, is working with the German Evotec in a beta cell replacement therapy for diabetics.
The emphatic takeaway is that the opposite of addiction is connection. Beating the disease is fundamentally about preempting the point where you lose the freedom to choose: Don’t hold the drink in your hand; don’t go to the party where you know exactly what will go down. In the moment before the bad decision, Brand urged, “you have to make the commitment to call someone who can be your North Star. Someone who is not spellbound in that moment. Someone who can tell you the problem you’re trying to escape is still going to be there, and it’s not going to work, and you’re gonna feel like shit afterward. This is why we need people further down the path, so they can hold our shit as we grow.”
Vanadium is a compound found in tiny amounts in plants and animals. Early studies showed that vanadium normalized blood sugar levels in animals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. When people with diabetes were given vanadium, they had a modest increase in insulin sensitivity and were able to lower their need for insulin. Researchers want to understand how vanadium works in the body, find potential side effects, and set safe dosages.
Some risks of the keto diet include low blood sugar, negative medication interactions, and nutrient deficiencies. (People who should avoid the keto diet include those with kidney damage or disease, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, and those with or at a heightened risk for heart disease due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or family history. (40)
Nerves help orchestrate this digestive tour de force, says Bragg, by telling the muscles what to do. Uncontrolled diabetes, though, can damage the nerves, leading to some GI missteps. “It has to do with hyperglycemia [high blood glucose],” says Bragg. “We don’t know the exact mechanism.” We do know that blood glucose control can both prevent and improve GI dysfunction.
Per the WHO, people with fasting glucose levels from 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/l (110 to 125 mg/dl) are considered to have impaired fasting glucose. people with plasma glucose at or above 7.8 mmol/l (140 mg/dl), but not over 11.1 mmol/l (200 mg/dl), two hours after a 75 gram oral glucose load are considered to have impaired glucose tolerance. Of these two prediabetic states, the latter in particular is a major risk factor for progression to full-blown diabetes mellitus, as well as cardiovascular disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) since 2003 uses a slightly different range for impaired fasting glucose of 5.6 to 6.9 mmol/l (100 to 125 mg/dl).
Herbs and oils have long been used to relieve pain. Though there haven’t been many scientific studies of their use, some small studies have shown significant benefit from rubbing on certain essential oils (concentrated plant extracts), including lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, rose, clove, rosemary, ginger, and others. It was not clear whether it was the oils or the touch that made the difference.
The primary complications of diabetes due to damage in small blood vessels include damage to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Damage to the eyes, known as diabetic retinopathy, is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina of the eye, and can result in gradual vision loss and eventual blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of having glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye problems. It is recommended that diabetics visit an eye doctor once a year. Damage to the kidneys, known as diabetic nephropathy, can lead to tissue scarring, urine protein loss, and eventually chronic kidney disease, sometimes requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation. Damage to the nerves of the body, known as diabetic neuropathy, is the most common complication of diabetes. The symptoms can include numbness, tingling, pain, and altered pain sensation, which can lead to damage to the skin. Diabetes-related foot problems (such as diabetic foot ulcers) may occur, and can be difficult to treat, occasionally requiring amputation. Additionally, proximal diabetic neuropathy causes painful muscle atrophy and weakness.
In 2016, the 2nd Diabetes Surgery Summit released its own guidelines, arguing that surgery should be widely recommended for moderately obese people with diabetes who haven’t responded well to other treatments. They also agreed it should be considered for mildly obese people. And because of how cost-effective surgery is, especially compared to standard treatment, insurance companies should be willing to foot the bill, it said.
Benari, an Ashkenazi Jew, doesn’t fall into that category. But Cummings and other bariatric experts I spoke to said that surgery should be a possible option for any person whose diabetes isn’t improving. Cummings himself is currently working on a clinical trial in India of bariatric patients with BMIs as low as 25. And he expects similar trials will come down the pipeline.
Certain drugs that affect the brain can help to control chronic pain. Antidepressants in the class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include duloxetine (Cymbalta), are often prescribed for pain. So are tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as amitriptyline (Elavil). SSRIs often boost energy, while TCAs can make you sleepy. According to the Harvard Medical School website, “Some physicians prescribe an SSRI during the day and amitriptyline at bedtime for pain patients.”
The centerpiece of the weekend was a keynote by Russell Brand. I got in early as a member of the media and grabbed a seat in the front row of the enormous multipurpose convention space. I was sitting watching stagehands and audiovisual technicians bustling around when, about 10 minutes before the crowd was to be let in, Brand came onstage and appeared horrified at the layout of the audience seating. There was a 12-foot aisle in the center, directly in front of where Brand was to stand at his microphone. “This is death,” he scolded, pointing at the space. “I’m supposed to perform into this?”
The NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases and Kidney Diseases says it, “currently supports studies that are working toward obtaining FDA licensure to reclassify islet allo-transplantation as therapeutic. In other countries, such as Canada and Scandinavia, islet allo-transplantation is no longer considered experimental and is an accepted therapy in certain patients.” It adds that “Some patient advocates and islet researchers feel that islet allo-transplantation is close to having a therapeutic label.”
This is the advice that diabetics received a hundred years ago. Even in Sweden, with the high fat-Petrén diet that included fatty pork cuts, butter and green cabbage. And when diabetics start eating this way today the same thing happens as it did in the past. Their blood sugar levels improve dramatically from day one. This makes sense, as they avoid eating what raises blood sugar.
How does high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) feel? To maintain the right amount of blood sugar, the body needs insulin, a hormone that delivers this sugar to the cells. When insulin is lacking, blood sugar builds up. We describe symptoms of high blood sugar, including fatigue, weight loss, and frequent urination. Learn who is at risk and when to see a doctor here. Read now