In recent years the use of Chinese herbs has become a more and more popular option.
ETIOLOGY OF HERBAL MEDICINE VIEW
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, diabetes mellitus is a disorder characterized by Yin deficiency with dryness, heat and dampness. Yin deficiency is the underlying cause of the disease; dryness and heat represent the symptoms and signs; and dampness is reflected in increased blood glucose. Diabetes mellitus is most closely related to Wasting (Xiao Ke) syndrome, which can be categorized into Upper, Middle and Lower Wasting (Xiao Ke) syndrome, with the organs affected including the Lungs, Stomach and Kidneys, respectively.
Upper Wasting (Xiao Ke) Syndrome is characterized by Lung heat drying up body fluids. Symptoms are fidgeting, polydipsia, dry red tongue (with or without cracks), with a thin, yellow coat, and a forceful, rapid pulse (especially at the cun position). Middle Wasting (Xiao Ke) Syndrome is characterized by Stomach fire damaging fluids, with such symptoms as polyphagia, constant hunger with good appetite, red tongue with a yellow coat, and a slippery, forceful, rapid pulse. Lower Wasting (Xiao Ke) Syndrome is sub-divided into Kidney Yin deficiency or Kidney Yin and Yang deficiencies. Kidney Yin deficiency is characterized by symptoms such as polyuria (especially at night), red tongue with little or no coat, and a deep, thready, rapid pulse; Kidney Yin and Yang deficiency is characterized by polyuria (especially at night), teethmarks on both sides of the tongue, pale red tongue with a white coat, and a deep, thready, weak pulse.
HOW HERBAL MEDICINE AFFECT MY PROBLEM?
Herbs are very effective in treating patients with Type II, NIDDM. When prescribed correctly, Chinese herbs lower blood glucose levels, manage common signs and symptoms, and treat the complications of diabetes mellitus. Patients generally respond to herbal treatment within three-to-four weeks, with significant reduction in blood glucose levels and little fluctuation throughout the day. However, some patients may require up to six-to-eight weeks.
For patients with Type I, IDDM, Chinese herbs are used in conjunction with insulin to manage symptoms and complications. Chinese herbs can also reduce the frequency and dosage of insulin injections. However, it is important to keep in mind that herbs cannot replace insulin, and patients with IDDM will still require insulin injections.
CAN I TAKE HERBS WITH WESTERN MEDICINE?
Patients should not stop using drug treatments abruptly as there is a risk of hyperglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis. Herbal and drug treatments should overlap for 1 to 2 weeks before patients are to begin tapering off drug treatments to ensure adequate control of blood glucose levels.
Concurrent use of drugs and herbal treatment may have synergistic effects on lowering the blood glucose levels. During the transition period when the patients take both drugs and herbs, their blood glucose levels should be monitored at least twice daily to assess the effectiveness of the treatment and to avoid hypoglycemia. Dosage must be adjusted as needed to keep blood glucose within the normal range. Herbal treatment may reduce the dosage and frequency of insulin injections needed; however, it can never replace insulin, especially in insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) patients. Patients with IDDM should always be treated with insulin, or a combination of insulin and herbs.
Lifestyle adjustments are absolutely critical for short-term management and long-term recovery of diabetes. Patients should be encouraged to engage in regular daily exercise, sleep by 10 p.m. to enhance restoration of Yin elements in the body, and eliminate sugar, carbohydrates and caffeine from the diet. Additional dietary advice may be useful based on the primary organ systems affected.
Diagnosis and treatment of the most common and complex endocrinologic disorder continues to pose a challenge for health care practitioners. Diabetes mellitus commonly may go undiagnosed aspatients with early stages of Type II, NIDDM are often asymptomatic. Also, as patients with chronic Type II, NIDDM often have a wide variety of complications, diabetes mellitus is frequently overlooked or mis-diagnosed. Once the correct diagnosis is made, diabetes and its complications can be effectively managed by both western drugs and herbal remedies. In conclusion, herbal medicine offers a safe and effective alternative for patients with diabetes mellitus.