29 million people have type 2 diabetes in the United States. This accounts for 9.3% of the population according to the Centers for Disease Control. There appears to be reams of information on the disease, yet it is anticipated that by 2034 over 44 million Americans will be diagnosed as type 2 diabetics. (reference: American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Care; Projecting the Future Diabetes Population Size and Related Costs for the U.S. Elbert S. Huang, MD, MPH, Anirban Basu, PHD, Michael O’Grady, PHD and James C. Capretta, MA)
Why is this just another disease we are failing to cure?
Understanding all the various factors contributing to the causes of type 2 diabetes is complicated. I have listed four factors most commonly discussed. The first three factors deal with the individual; the fourth is classified an external factor more likely compounding the issue rather than being causal:
- complication resulting from other health conditions
- government and big agriculture relationship creating billions of dollars of revenue from processed and high sugar foods
Regardless of belief, the approach used to deal with this condition remains relatively unchanged. The focus continues to be on blood sugar levels (measured by blood glucose and A1C levels.) Medications are ultimately prescribed for most people. These prescriptions become lifelong treatments typically leading to other health complications and reduced quality of living. Many will die early from the various complications of this disease. This bleak picture has become the accepted model as the best method to treat type 2 diabetes.
For those who decide to participate in their own health, research has become an important tool. Many have learned the physiology of this disease. They have learned about insulin resistance, metabolic syndromes, beta cells, glycemic index, glycemic load, insulin index, etc… Focusing on the “science” they hoped to overcome the disease. Even with this laudable approach, many have succumbed to the disease anyway.
What are we missing with treating type 2 diabetes?
It is my opinion as a doctor that has seen my fair share of cases over a 20+ year career that we are attempting to treat a disease instead of
treating a person.
It is my opinion we need to refocus and return to the concept of health, not disease. We need to understand the true needs of the body which includes various aspects including emotional, spiritual, physical and mental. We need to treat a patient as a WHOLE BODY and not as a diseased part. We need to provide our bodies with the various elements it needs to return it to a state of homeostasis (balance) for it to regain its vitality and capability for maximal function. We need the patient to understand their power and their abilities to be healthy.
Once all of this is understood and followed, we then need to customize any additional needs the body may require including pharmaceutical. Our problem is we handle the person’s needs backwards. We start with pharmaceutical agents and attempt to navigate the rest of the person’s well being around these agents to achieve “health.” In general, even if you succeed with blood chemistry values (by using drug therapy intervention), has the person become “healthy?”
The beauty of this hypothesis is in its simplicity, yet, powerful outcome. We no longer have to “technically” name diseases and find algorithms to “fix” them. Heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, etc…, all share the same etiology (cause). They stem from an imbalance and as these imbalances are corrected, the body returns itself to a state of optimal health. Each person, based on the integrity of their individual constitution, will be able to achieve a different maximal level. Once these levels are attained, additional nutraceutical, homeopathic, ayurvedic, herbal and pharmaceutical intervention can be applied if the level is sub par.
For those questioning this hypothesis, I challenge you to critically think and open your minds to a different paradigm of health. We all believe the body has a natural ability to heal itself. When we cut ourselves and bleed, we expect the body to create a clot, followed by a scab and ultimately form new skin to repair the region that was cut. All this healing occurs without our cognitive efforts. It does this because of an innate ability to heal. One may ask, what about hemophilia?(a condition that results in clotting complications) People suffering this condition are unable to form clots to heal typically. This is a good example of a genetic disorder that would require medical intervention. I propose that we focus on the masses and not the minority exceptions to the rule. Remember, NOTHING will ever cure everything all the time.
Our bodies natural state of harmony seeks health, not disease. We are not sick 6 out of 7 days of the week even though we are exposed to bacteria and viruses 7 days a week. Do we get sick because we are not taking antibiotics frequently enough? Is it possible some of the examples below result in our developing illnesses?:
- increased stress that elevates a hormone called cortisol that weakens immune function
- sedentary lifestyles that prevent proper lymph flow “gunking” up our lymph system preventing us from clearing these toxins from our bodies
- dehydration causing physical stress to our bodies and reduced organ function
- sleep deprivation preventing the body from recharging as needed
Would it make sense to call each of the above contributing factors a different disease “Name” and treat it medically to resolve each component? This is TYPICALLY how we treat disease from the traditional medical model. Our doctors want to know what our symptoms are, and they provide (in many cases) medications in an attempt to resolve these symptoms. How often is this followed by adverse side effects requiring additional medication prescriptions to counteract the adverse reactions to the original medication?
Health is a very complicated topic. Challenging traditional protocols elicit strong emotions. I understand the anger and frustration on the part of the patient. However, following our current path in treating type 2 diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association is going to result in an increase of greater than 50 percent by 2034. Does our current approach really make sense if this is the likely outcome?
I believe we need to begin working with our doctors and addressing all the components previously discussed. As we begin living lifestyles that provide our bodies with the tools necessary for optimal health, combating disease becomes a natural process the body has perfected. In cases where too much damage has been suffered by the body as a result of lifestyle or true genetic expression, it is possible that some combination of neutraceutical, homeopathic, ayurvedic, herbal and pharmaceutical intervention would be necessary. In most cases of type 2 diabetes, the focus on healthy living and reaching a healthy balance would likely result in a better outcome with a better quality of life.