Preventing and Treating Diabetes with Natural Medicine

My Notes From The Diabetes Summit

Interview with Dr. Michael T. Murray ND

One of the great myths about natural medicine is it’s not scientific the fact is for the most common illnesses there’s great support in the medical literature for a natural approach, a greater support for the natural approach than there is for drugs and surgery.

I think the way in which most people with type 2 diabetes are being treated today in North America is a real travesty, the point I wanted to get across in that book which I co-authored with a medical doctor Dr. Michael Lyon, is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented quite easily and can be reversed in many cases with the use of diet, lifestyle and proper supplementation. In cases that it can’t be reversed it’s still important to utilize those safe natural approaches. Diet is very important a low glycemic load diet, most people today have heard of the glycemic index the glycemic load is a more practical utilization of those numeric values of the glycemic index along with how much carbohydrate is in a food. From that education the patient can learn how much carbohydrates they can consume in a 2 1/2-3 hour period, it’s a way to help them learn how to eat a low glycemic load diet.

As a primary care physician I have complete prescription authority, naturopathic physicians try to utilize natural therapies over the use of drugs and more heroic measures. We focus on things like diet, lifestyle, herbal medicines, dietary supplements, some naturopaths specialize in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, natural child birth or any number of different disciplines. Overall collectively we hold true to the philosophy that the best answers for improving our health are through nature. I think It’s an evolution of medicine as we grow in our understanding were going to utilize more of these natural approaches. The field of science is the attempt to understand our environment, when we look at medicine it’s basically our environment that were studying, were looking at our body and how our body works. What’s amazing to me is how much respect, awe and admiration that most people have for modern technology if they really think about it the greatest technology in the universe is nature. And the way in which we commune with nature on a daily basis is through the food that we eat. Through the food that we eat were learning that it influences our physiology, our genetic code or the expression of our genetic code in very profound and interesting ways.

When your looking at diabetes and some of the food components and how they modify risk factors for metabolic syndrome or how they influence the burning of fat or the action of insulin it’s truly amazing, were just scratching the surface in understanding how food can be used as medicine. Right now food and many cases natural approaches to natural health and healing are truly magical because we don’t understand how their not working as well as they will in the future. The definition of magic is it’s technology that is more advanced than the understanding of the people it’s being presented to. Let’s take advantage of what we do know and what we do know can be applied very well in this area of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity and the metabolic syndrome.

The first step in naturopathic medicine is to identify the cause and what are the obstacles to this person being as healthy as they possibly could be. When you talk about type 2 diabetes the overwhelming majority, over 90% of people with type 2 diabetes the cause is their carrying around too much belly fat the visceral fat around the abdomen that’s really where the focus should be. What’s contributing to that and how we influence that, that’s often a challenge. The bottom line is they need to take steps and lose weight, it improves the action of insulin in their body. It’s really a challenge for so many people we can all as physicians recognize that not everybody has the same level of commitment. What I found is the first step in helping people is to help them achieve a very high level of commitment. I will use leverage to help them get to that point, people are motivated by one of two things, one the avoidance of pain and two the seeking of pleasure. When it comes to type 2 diabetes it’s easy to paint the picture of how much pain their going to experience, the statistics for severe debilitating illness of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, amputations, kidney failure it’s quite overloaded in people with type 2 diabetes. If you could explain to them that if they get their blood sugar levels under control that they will have more energy, that they will be happier, that they will feel better immediately that’s a good step. I find their not to receptive to living a longer life frankly many of them are not happy, they don’t feel well, they don’t sleep that well, they have aches and pains, when you have type 2 diabetes a lot of body symptoms are much more apparent. A longer life isn’t going to make them take the steps necessary to change their diet, lifestyle and attitude. I try to show them the promise of what better health looks like if they take the steps necessary to improve their health, it’s very personalized and there are some tools I have to help them do that.

A lot of people want to take some things that will allow them to continue with their current diet and lifestyle, that’s fools gold it doesn’t work there is no drug that can compensate for poor dietary and lifestyle choices. If you have type 2 diabetes or even type 1 you can’t avoid it you absolutely must make diet and lifestyle changes if you want to be happy, healthy and live a long life there’s no question about it. We see this with cholesterol lowering drugs the research is quite clear, what the studies show is when people start taking statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs it kind of gives them free reign to continue to do what they do, they don’t exercise as much and they don’t make changes in their dietary habits so they end up gaining more weight The same thing with diabetic medications or type 2 oral hypoglycemia drugs we don’t have the data yet but from my experience their not addressing the underlying issue. Their just producing an affect on the number without actually improving a persons overall status.

The biggest cause of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, that may be due to something as lack of dietary chromium but more commonly what happens is as people start gaining weight around their mid section. This belly fat, visceral abdominal fat collectively these fat cells start acting like a tumor, what does a tumor want to do it wants to grow so the way in which these fat cells grow is that they start secreting compounds that block the actions of insulin. Normally how the insulin works is it binds to receptors on our cells and that opens up channels that allows glucose and other nutrients to enter that cell. We have specialized brain cells that are monitoring our appetite when they become resistant to insulin even though there’s a lot of sugar floating around it’s outside the cell it’s not inside the cell so that brain cell thinks it’s starving. It’s really a beautiful situation in looking at what causes obesity we talk a lot about the thrifty gene and various genetic predispositions but the bottom line is we have been bred over thousands and thousands of years so that when food is plentiful we have a built in mechanism that allows us to over consume calories. When we flood our body with sugar the sugar is being stored but inside that brain cell there’s a relative lack of nutrition but that brain cell is telling us to eat more and it’s telling us eat foods that will quickly raise our blood sugars, the brain is telling us to fatten up so we could survive the famine. We have a constant food supply right now so a lot of people their physiology is stuck in that fat storing mode. We have to improve that action of insulin so the brain can get that message that there is plenty of nutrition I need to shut down the appetite. When you start influencing the action of insulin in that manner it starts feeding cells throughout our body, our metabolism improves, our appetite and portion control is improved and people have a real chance of achieving their ideal body weight.

Exercise is critical, a low glycemic load diet is critical, over the last ten years we have been doing research on a special dietary fiber matrix called PGX. It’s a mixture of three dietary fibers that coalesce to form this new molecule, this new matrix it’s the most viscose water loving fiber known. When you ingest it it’s able to bind to water and form a gelatinous mass in your stomach that because it’s largely composed of water so it is comfortable and it sends a message to your brain that your full. It also has this mechanical effect so that we reduce our portion size people start eating less, it slows down gastric emptying and there is a whole cascade of affects that start kicking in. It’s been shown to increase the action of insulin by up to 67% in people with insulin resistance. You start making that insulin work better the brain starts feeling satisfied it also increases the level of gut compounds that tells your brain your full while at the same time lowering compounds that tell your brain to eat. You get this incredible sensation of satiety and when people feel satisfied they eat fewer calories. We started working with PGX and patients who have type 2 diabetes and we were using it as a pre-meal conditioner to improve their tolerance to sugars and what we showed was that PGX lowered the glycemic index of any food by 35-70%. It had an incredible ability at reducing after meal elevations in blood sugar levels, we started seeing dramatic improvement in blood sugar control and many people with type 2 diabetes were able to get off their medications. We were very excited but when we started listening to patients they started telling us was that for the first time in their lives they didn’t feel hungry all the time. They felt satisfied as a result for the first time they started losing weight nearly effortlessly. So for the last ten years our research on type 2 diabetes is focused on PGX and using PGX in helping people achieve and maintain their body weight. I really believe it’s the holy grail for helping people improve the action of insulin getting their blood sugar levels under control, get their type 2 diabetes under control and as I’ve been talking about a longer and healthier life.

Why I think PGX is the holy grail for weight loss, Dr. Michael Lyon who I mentioned was also co-author in our book Hunger Free Forever, he had the brilliant idea of continuous blood sugar monitoring to evaluate the effects of PGX over a twenty four hour period. What we know is in patients that have insulin resistance and patients that have type 2 diabetes they have a high degree of glycemic volatility that’s the scientific way of saying their on the blood sugar roller coaster. Every time there’s a rapid rise in blood sugar it’s followed by a rapid drop and when it’s followed by a rapid drop you know when that happens your body starts dumping more cortisol and more adrenalin we have this vicious cycle taking place. One of the ways PGX improves insulin action is by stabilizing blood sugar levels, we no longer have the cortisol and adrenalin surges that are so detrimental to proper blood sugar control. Another mechanism is really interesting your probably familiar with GLP1 this is a gut hormone, they have actually developed a drug using the GLP1 out of gila monsters as an injectable treatment for type 2 diabetes that drug is called Byetta.  GLP1 is a compound that is secreted by intestinal cells and the substance activates the action of insulin, it primes insulin receptors on our cells but it’s a very short lived molecule. It’s released in pulses and it’s broken down almost as soon as it’s made that’s why we have to use the gila monster GLP1 instead of human GLP1. What we found with PGX is as it moves it’s way through the intestinal tract it causes release of GLP1 it also increases the number of cells that produce GLP1, these are called L cells and finally were learning more and more how important gut bacteria is to promoting proper weight. When they took gut bacteria out of fat rats and gave it to skinny rats they became fat on the flip side when they inoculated fat rats with the intestinal flora of skinny rats they became skinny. We have this growing body of evidence that gut flora plays a huge roll in insulin sensitivity and the utilization of energy substrates so we feel one of the mechanisms of PGX is through improving the bacterial flora.

There are many forms of PGX on the market it’s available in granules, as capsules, as a weight loss shake and mixing with a whey protein or a vegan protein. Some of the versions have it mixed in with mulberry and mulberry extract contains a substance called moranoline and this substance has been shown to exert a number of effects that would be beneficial in type 2 diabetes in fact there was a head to head comparison study comparing mulberry to standard hypoglycemic oral agent glyburide and the mulberry outperformed the drug. It led to greater improvements of reductions of fasting blood sugar levels, reduction in A1c lipids dropped. Antioxidant activity increased so mulberry may be a better choice than metformin or other drugs used in type 2 diabetes. It works by not only blocking the absorption of sugar it also works by helping insulin work a bit better. There is a lot of data coming out, I just received a new study it was published just a couple weeks ago in patients with pre-diabetes and it showed again very good results were going to see a lot of good data on mulberry extract over the next few years. There may be in some parts of the world like India where they are starting to see the same type of epidemic with type 2 diabetes that we see here their looking at creating mulberry flour and putting it in their breads and what not.

There is a long list of nutrients that are absolutely essential in managing type 2 diabetes the word diabetes literally means to urinate freely and through that process of frequent urination were losing a lot of water soluble nutrients.  So virtually all the minerals, all the B vitamins, vitamin C, we have to replenish those particularly important is the mineral magnesium. Most diabetics type 1 and type 2 are very low in magnesium. Magnesium supplementation has been slow to improve the action of insulin, help them reduce the risk for some of the major complications of diabetes and just help them function better in general that’s a critical nutrient. I really recommend that a diabetic take a good high potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula and by good I mean one that’s going to provide at least the RDA of both vitamins and mineral like calcium and magnesium but especially those trace minerals like zinc, manganese, copper and selenium those are really important for the diabetic. Those are examples of nutrients their getting depleted in because of higher blood sugar levels leading to frequent urination.

Whey protein can help reduce food consumption studies have shown that using whey protein as a pre meal conditioner will lead to greater satiety and reduce the number of calories consumed at that meal, they get that GLP1 effect and you also get improved insulin action. There are a lot of herbals that could be helpful I mentioned the mulberry but research shows there are some others that are very useful gymnema is probably the one that has the most support behind it and again what were trying to do is trying to help people stay off those oral hypoglycemic drugs. We use these agents as kind of a crutch until the diet and lifestyle mechanisms really come into play. I think it’s safer to use those more natural approaches like the mulberry, gymnema, cinnamon than it is to use those drugs like metformin. What’s happening out there is because we have such a large population of people with pre-diabetes the drug companies are trying to get doctors to prescribe metformin and other oral hypoglycemics earlier and earlier and I think that’s a mistake for the reasons I talked about earlier it gives them a false sense of security.

There was a diabetes prevention study that was done several years ago and what surprises me is the drug companies will use it as evidence to support the prescription of oral hypoglycemics in pre-diabetes but in the study they had a control group they made no changes. They had a group that took metformin and they had a group that was supposed to make dietary changes which they didn’t but they did do the prescribed exercise walking at least thirty minutes a day five days a week. The metformin group had a 30% reduced rate of developing type 2 diabetes compared to the control group but the group that just walked thirty minutes a day five days a week they had a 58% reduction risk. What we have to do is we have to take that information and really lay it out there to patients. It’s your choice, most people don’t know they have control.

Some people say they have type 2 diabetes and I’m thin, if they have type 2 diabetes and their thin a couple of things they should have a test called a C-peptide test not a C-reactive test that tells us if their producing insulin. Many people with type 2 diabetes actually are type 1 diabetic that aren’t producing enough insulin the other thing is they should buy a body fat scale these are very affordable now. There’s a walking army out there of skinny obese people what do I mean by that, It’s not how much body weight your carrying it’s how much body fat your carrying. A body fat percent scale will help people identify if their obese by a body fat percentage not a body weight percentage.

I have a free weekly newsletter and when you sign up you get a free copy of my ebook on stress, anxiety and insomnia what the drug companies won’t tell you and your doctor doesn’t know. The reason I make this book for free is I’m on a campaign, I want to get people off these benzodiazepine drugs valium, lunesta, their just bad news there are safe and effective alternatives out there. Because blood sugar control is so important in addressing stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression there is a whole chapter on controlling blood sugar and achieving your ideal body weight with PGX so they can get a lot of the information I’ve talked about on this program for free. Then the newsletter I use that as a platform, basically I’m a medical researcher I try to put it out there in a way people can appreciate. I come across these interesting studies that need to be out there but because there is no financial reward nobody is talking about it, this weeks newsletter is on a single dietary treatment for gastroesophagael reflex disorder. It’s simply having two meals a day and only having liquids between those meals they had 100% success rate in people with mild GERD that’s fantastic no drugs no side effects. They found that dietary program simply eliminated the intra-gastric pressure that can lead to the reflux. I try to get good information out there that people could use.

Michael Murray ND web page

He recommended to find a doctor near you

I highly recommend going to his page it’s a great site with a lot of information


Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

M. Scherker medical researcher



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