There is, at present, no known cure for type 2 diabetes, but those who have it can have a normal, active lifestyle through adaptations in diet and exercise and, in some cases, one or more medications. Although people often associate obesity with diabetes, thin people can become diabetic as well since diabetes is caused by a pancreatic malfunction or the body’s inability to process insulin.
Scientists speculate that genetics and the environment may contribute to the onset of diabetes, but maintaining a healthy weight can decrease the likelihood of its onset.
Traditionally, metformin has been the primary drug used to treat the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Metformin, which is a biguanide, is the generic drug name, but it’s also marketed as Fortamet, Glumetza, Glucophage, Metformin HCl ER, Riomet and more.
Generally, type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different treatment protocols, but both can be treated with injections of insulin, depending on the severity of the insulin depletion. Injectable insulin is available as:
These types of drugs regulate your blood glucose levels for a specific period and are prescribed according to your unique physiology.
An amylinomimetic drug may be prescribed that will help reduce your appetite and lower your blood sugar. This type of drug is injected before eating and reduces your blood sugar by increasing the length of time it takes for your stomach to digest the food that’s in it.
An alpha-glucosidase inhibitor facilitates your body’s breakdown of sugar and starch, which will reduce your blood glucose level. These types of drugs should be taken before meals, but are taken orally rather than by injection. Glyset and Precose are two examples of this type of medication.
Dipeptidyl peptidase-4, or DPP-4, inhibitors assist the body in insulin production and are able to reduce and maintain proper blood glucose levels. Some of the brand names for DPP-4 inhibitors include:
Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1 agonists, emulate incretin, which is a natural metabolic hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar after eating. They work similarly to DPP-4 inhibitors by decreasing the appetite and increasing the time it takes for the digestive process to complete. Some of the more common brand names for GLP-1 agonists include:
These types of prescription medications are particularly important for those who have health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, chronic renal disease or heart failure in addition to their type 2 diabetes.
Meglitinides encourage your body to produce insulin, but occasionally may trigger hypoglycemia, so they’re prescribed for specific physiologies. This class of type 2 diabetes medication includes the following brand names:
Sodium-glucose transporter 2 inhibitors, or SGLT 2 inhibitors, encourage the body to eliminate blood glucose through kidneys and into the urine. This type of medication is used when other diseases are present such as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, chronic renal disease or heart failure. Brand names for these medications include:
Sulfonylureas are one of the oldest treatment protocols for diabetes and use beta cells to stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin. Located in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, beta cells are groups of cells that help regulate blood glucose levels by secreting glucagon and insulin. Common brand names for sulfonylureas include:
Thiazolidinediones facilitate your body’s use of insulin by enabling your fat cells to use glucose. However, they also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, so they should be used with caution and will require monitoring during treatment. Brand names for thiazolidnedions include:
In addition to prescription remedies for diabetes as listed above, those who have type 2 diabetes may also need to take medications for cholesterol or hypertension or other health issues, and a daily aspirin for their cardiovascular health. However, each prescription medication has side effects so there may be a period of adjustment in order to find the medication that works best for your physiology.
Although we generally consider vitamins and supplements to be safe, sometimes they’re contraindicated for certain health conditions. For example, vitamin D may help the body to increase its production of insulin, so be sure to advise your medical professional if you’re taking vitamin D or plan to start.
Research has yielded conflicting evidence regarding the effect of vitamin D on insulin production, but vitamin D works by interacting with receptors in the beta cells and helping them to survive in the diabetes environment. Vitamin D also manages the body’s regulation of calcium levels, which can impact several systems in the body. Although they’re vital to several bodily functions, excess vitamin D and excess calcium in the body can be harmful, but a blood test can determine whether you need additional vitamins and minerals in your body.
Be sure to discuss this with your medical professional before embarking on a regimen of vitamin and mineral supplements.
It’s always prudent to live a healthy lifestyle that avoids hazardous habits such as smoking and vaping, but some naturalists and advocates of holistic remedies believe that diseases such as diabetes can be cured by home remedies. Some of these remedies may have credibility, others may not. Commonly listed holistic remedies for diabetes include:
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine urges consumers to avoid relying on herbal supplements and holistic remedies to treat diabetes because their effectiveness hasn’t been clinically proven. Some may have side effects and some may be contraindicated when taking some prescription medications.
The decision to use traditional Western medicine, alternative medicine or a combination is a highly personal one and there’s no solution that’s correct for every diabetic individual. You must be comfortable with your treatment protocol, so select the treatment regimen that makes you comfortable. Prescription medicines, although they may be successful in treating diabetes, usually have a long list of side effects, some of which may require additional medications to treat. Holistic remedies usually have few or no side effects, but they may not be backed by the research that prescription medications are. The choice is yours.