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Signs of Diabetes: A Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Perspective on Type 2 DM

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on June 20, 2023

In today's fast-paced world, diabetes has become increasingly prevalent, affecting millions of individuals worldwide. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from insulin resistance or insufficient insulin production. While conventional medical approaches play a vital role in managing diabetes, exploring a naturopathic and functional medicine perspective can provide additional insights into identifying and addressing the signs of Type 2 DM. In this evidence-based blog post, we will delve into the signs of diabetes from a holistic perspective and explore natural strategies for prevention and management. (1)

  1. Frequent Urination (Polyuria): Polyuria, the increased frequency of urination, is often an early sign of Type 2 DM. From a naturopathic viewpoint, the kidneys play a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can overwhelm the kidneys, leading to increased urine production. Additionally, the loss of excess glucose through urine contributes to dehydration and increased thirst. (2)

Natural Approaches: Hydration is essential to counteract the effects of polyuria. Drinking adequate water throughout the day can help maintain proper hydration levels. Furthermore, incorporating herbal teas such as dandelion root or nettle leaf tea, which possess diuretic properties, can assist in supporting kidney function.

  1. Excessive Thirst (Polydipsia): Polydipsia, or excessive thirst, often accompanies polyuria in individuals with Type 2 DM. As the body loses fluids through increased urination, the natural response is an intensified feeling of thirst. (3)

Natural Approaches: Staying adequately hydrated is crucial. Alongside drinking water, consuming hydrating foods such as watermelon, cucumber, and celery can contribute to overall hydration levels. Avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol intake is recommended as they can have diuretic effects.

  1. Unexplained Weight Changes: Weight fluctuations, particularly unexplained weight loss or weight gain, can be indicative of underlying blood sugar imbalances in Type 2 DM. Insulin resistance, a hallmark of this condition, can disrupt the body's ability to utilize glucose for energy, resulting in weight loss. Conversely, increased insulin levels can promote weight gain due to its role in fat storage. (4)

Natural Approaches: Focus on maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet tailored to individual needs. Incorporating whole foods such as vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can help stabilize blood sugar levels and support healthy weight management. Regular physical activity, including aerobic exercise and strength training, can improve insulin sensitivity and aid in weight management.

  1. Fatigue and Low Energy: Feelings of fatigue and low energy levels are common in individuals with Type 2 DM. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to energy crashes, affecting daily activities and overall well-being. (5)

Natural Approaches: Prioritizing quality sleep is crucial for restoring energy levels. Establishing a regular sleep routine and creating a sleep-friendly environment can aid in achieving restorative sleep. Additionally, managing stress through techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga can improve energy levels and overall well-being.

  1. Increased Hunger (Polyphagia): Polyphagia, or increased hunger, can be a result of the body's inability to properly utilize glucose for energy. Despite eating more, individuals with Type 2 DM may experience persistent hunger due to insulin resistance. (6)

Natural Approaches: Incorporating foods with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables, can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and reduce hunger pangs. Including fiber-rich foods can also aid in promoting satiety.

Understanding the signs of diabetes from a naturopathic and functional medicine perspective can provide valuable insights into early detection and proactive management of Type 2 DM. By considering the holistic approach, individuals can integrate natural strategies to complement conventional medical interventions for optimal diabetes care.

It is important to note that while naturopathic and functional medicine approaches can be beneficial, they should not replace or disregard conventional medical advice. However, it is essential to work with holistically-minded healthcare professionals, including naturopathic doctors, functional medicine practitioners, and endocrinologists, to develop a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan.

By recognizing the signs of diabetes, such as frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight changes, fatigue, and increased hunger, individuals can take proactive steps toward prevention and management. Incorporating natural approaches, including proper hydration, balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, quality sleep, stress management, and mindful eating, can support overall well-being and help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Remember, diabetes is a complex condition, and each individual's experience may vary. It is crucial to seek professional guidance to tailor an approach that aligns with your specific needs, lifestyle, and medical history. By combining the best of both conventional and natural approaches, individuals can take control of their health and achieve optimal well-being in their journey with Type 2 DM.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any changes to your diabetes management plan or starting any new treatment regimen.

Resources:

  1. Galicia-Garcia U, Benito-Vicente A, Jebari S, Larrea-Sebal A, Siddiqi H, Uribe KB, Ostolaza H, Martín C. Pathophysiology of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Aug 30;21(17):6275. doi: 10.3390/ijms21176275. PMID: 32872570; PMCID: PMC7503727.
  2. Shin HJ, Kim JH, Yi JH, Han SW, Kim HJ. Polyuria with the Concurrent manifestation of Central Diabetes Insipidus (CDI) & Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM). Electrolyte Blood Press. 2012 Dec;10(1):26-30. doi: 10.5049/EBP.2012.10.1.26. Epub 2012 Dec 31. PMID: 23508726; PMCID: PMC3597915.
  3. Nigro N, Grossmann M, Chiang C, Inder WJ. Polyuria-polydipsia syndrome: a diagnostic challenge. Intern Med J. 2018 Mar;48(3):244-253. doi: 10.1111/imj.13627. PMID: 28967192.
  4. Oh TJ, Moon JH, Choi SH, Lim S, Park KS, Cho NH, Jang HC. Body-Weight Fluctuation and Incident Diabetes Mellitus, Cardiovascular Disease, and Mortality: A 16-Year Prospective Cohort Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Mar 1;104(3):639-646. doi: 10.1210/jc.2018-01239. PMID: 30500906.
  5. Park H, Park C, Quinn L, Fritschi C. Glucose control and fatigue in type 2 diabetes: the mediating roles of diabetes symptoms and distress. J Adv Nurs. 2015 Jul;71(7):1650-60. doi: 10.1111/jan.12632. Epub 2015 Feb 18. PMID: 25690988; PMCID: PMC4478212.
  6. Schultes B, Oltmanns KM, Kern W, Fehm HL, Born J, Peters A. Modulation of hunger by plasma glucose and metformin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Mar;88(3):1133-41. doi: 10.1210/jc.2002-021450. PMID: 12629096.

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