The statistics on the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes are staggering as it is now estimated that one-half of all Americans adults will develop the disease by 2020. It is a serious issue that will bankrupt our society on many levels if the tide is not turned. Currently, one out of every five United States federal health care dollars is spent treating people with diabetes. The average yearly health care costs for a person without diabetes is $2,560; for a person with diabetes, that figure soars to $11,744. Much of that increase is related to the costs of drugs.
Earlier this year, the medical journal Diabetes Care published the entire guidelines of the ADA’s Standards of Medical Care for Type 2 Diabetes. There were many things I found extremely alarming about these guidelines. Foremost is the complete over reliance on the pharmaceutical management of diabetes and its complications along with a complete absence of recommendations for use of critical nutritional support. When medical historians look back at these sorts of position papers they will refer to them as marketing propaganda promoting the dark age of pharmaceutical interventions. These guidelines were obviously written by individuals closely tied to the drug industry – it’s a travesty. The major shortcoming of pharmaceutical interventions in type 2 diabetes are that they do not impact the progression of the disease and in many cases actually accelerate the underlying disease process and increase mortality. Yet, this approach is the only one offered by conventional medicine.
New Data: Does Early Drug Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes Spell Doom?
In an article published in the September/October 2012 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. Researchers from Michigan State University stated that individuals with financial conflicts should be excluded from involvement with medical practice guideline writing, regardless of disclosure, and physicians should be discouraged from meeting with drug company representatives. After analyzing how physicians treated patients with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in 44 primary care centers in Michigan Here is why they made these statements:
“We noted a common scenario: patients began medications after having moderately elevated test results (often at levels considered normal just a few years ago), developed additional symptoms, were found to have values falling outside reference ranges on other tests, and were prescribed more drugs. They were expected to continue these medications permanently: their target laboratory levels could be achieved only through continued use of these drugs.”
The clinical consultations the researchers observed “focused heavily on” medication prescriptions with little or no discussion of other treatment paths including diet and exercise.
The patient interviews were enlightening as almost 70% of the patients said they had experienced significant symptoms of adverse drug reactions from diabetes or hypertension medications, a much higher percentage than is expressed by the drug companies.
The key issue that is not addressed by the ADA or other conventional medical group dealing with diabetes is that the drugs are only biochemical band-aids. There is one fundamental truth that is rarely explained to the patient: type 2 diabetes in almost every case is a disease caused by diet and lifestyle. The focus should be on using diet, lifestyle, and natural medicine to achieve ideal blood glucose control and metabolic targets, as well as reducing the risk of the complications of diabetes by focusing on the following four areas:
1. Providing optimal nutrient status
2. Reducing after-meal elevations in blood glucose levels
3. Improving insulin function and sensitivity
4. Preventing nutritional and oxidative stress
For more information, please see the completely revised and updated 3rd edition of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.
Hunt LM, Kreiner M, Brody H. The changing face of chronic illness management in primary care: a qualitative study of underlying influences and unintended outcomes. Ann Fam Med. 2012 Sep;10(5):452-60.