Integrative Treatment Strategies for Diabetes


Integrative Treatment Strategies for Diabetes

Integrative Treatment Strategies for Diabetes


Treatment Strategies for DiabetesDiabetes

Severity of diabetes symptoms are mediated not only by insulin and glucose, which is what is most commonly talked about. Other factors such as dietary composition, exercise, and stress-reducing practices can substantially decrease symptoms and side effects of diabetes.

There are two major types of diabetes, type 1 and 2. Type 1 diabetes has a genetic basis and you are typically born with it or develop it at a very young age. This type is also known as juvenile diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the acquired form of diabetes that is so prevalent today with the rapidly rising obesity rate and increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are chronic overeating, consumption of highly processed and sugary products, and lack of exercise.

Diabetes comes along with system-wide symptoms such as diffuse inflammation, increased permeability of the gut, elevated cortisol, production of metabolically detrimental compounds in the gut, and poor energy production from foods you eat.


Your Stress Hormone - Cortisol

It has long been known that cortisol has the potential to wreak havoc on your body. Too much cortisol in the body can cause diabetes-like symptoms in non diabetics, called stress hyperglycemia. Diabetic patients with chronically high stress levels were found to have additional complications such as more pronounced insulin resistance, dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system, nephropathy, poor immune response, or background retinopathy. High levels of cortisol alter gut microbiota and permeability, decreasing your body’s ability to regulate absorption of nutrients and defend against potentially harmful compounds.

Stress reducing practices are not only implicated in the reduction of cortisol, but also in establishing positive mental health. Depression and anxiety are highly associated with digestive problems, inflammation, increased disease severity, high cholesterol, a weakened immune system, increased neuronal death, and decreased neurogenesis. Establishing positive mental health is a crucial step in managing chronic illnesses.


Gut Microbiota

The health of your gut microbiome is delicate and easily perturbed. Your microbiome can affect anything from your mental health to your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Certain dietary interventions are correlated with better microbiome composition which can in turn decrease risk factors like blood cholesterol or high blood sugar values. There are a few ways that these changes are mediated.

When people with pre-existing diabetes or genetic risk factors that predispose them to diabetes have their microbiome analyzed, there are some commonalities with which species of bacteria are over or under populated. This suggests that your gut microbiome bacterial population and presence of inflammatory markers can be reliable indicators of predisposition for diabetes, developing prediabetes, or decreased insulin sensitivity.

Increasing dietary fiber is one of the best-supported interventions for the dysbiotic gut and is mediated by creation of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA). Your gut microbes produce the optimal level of SCFAs when they have continued access to dietary fiber. These SCFAs help to;

  1. Decrease the permeability in the gut, potentially decreasing the amount of damaging digestive products entering the bloodstream

    1. There is potential that early intervention with probiotics and dietary fiber may help to prevent juvenile diabetes, but more research needs to be done on this topic before we can come to any conclusions.

  2. Downregulate appetite, as a main cause of diabetes is obesity

  3. Decreases chronic inflammation associated with diabetes

  4. Elevate levels of glucagon like peptide which help to improve blood glucose regulation and slow gastric emptying, meaning you stay full longer


Mitigating Practices


Deep and continued meditation throughout life helps to increase glucose metabolism by decreasing the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream. This also promotes positive mental health, decreasing anxiety and depression risk. In a study of Tibetan monks vs general population in a selected geographical area, it was shown that Tibetan monks had far higher populations of beneficial bacteria in their gut than the control group of subjects living in the same area and consuming the same diet. Tibetan monks have a markedly low level of cortisol in their bodies even with the same heart rate variability and blood pressure values.

Meditation has been shown to establish and maintain a protective set of proteins in the body called the plasma proteome. The plasma proteome may confer resistance to obesity, high blood pressure and normalize heart rate variations.

Afternoon exercise

Exercise is good for you, that’s a given. It releases endorphins, which helps your mental health, and it keeps your body healthy. Staying active is especially important for patients with diabetes. Studies have shown that exercise timing in respect to your circadian rhythm can modulate glucose metabolism differently. In a study comparing two cohorts of men with diabetes and similar risk factors that exercise in the morning versus the afternoon, it was found that afternoon exercise resulted in better glucose regulation. In the afternoon group, participants had

  1. Elevated T4, a hormone that is associated with reduced glucose metabolism complications, which is typically lacking in hypothyroidism

  2. Lower blood glucose concentration immediately after exercise

  3. Better long-term glycemic control over several years of monitoring

Traditional Yoga

Yoga, especially slow-paced traditional yoga, being a meditative practice, also decreases cortisol levels. Being a form of exercise, it releases endorphins as well. When diabetic participants practice yoga under direction, their blood glucose levels immediately after practicing are improved, even when participants had fasted before their practice. Daily practice ranging from 15-45 minutes perpetuated this effect and resulted in better glucose control and diminished presence of common comorbidities and negative side effects.

There were some yoga asanas in particular (poses) studied to see if specific poses cause a decrease in blood sugar. In one study, Ardha Matsyendrasana (sitting spinal twist) was practiced for 15 minutes, and it effectively lowered blood sugar levels. In another, several asanas were practiced for a longer flow session and had a similar outcome. More research needs to be done to see if there are particular poses or flows that are superior to a generalized yoga session, but we do know that this practice helps glycemic control.

Our Integrative Treatment Strategies

While the Western approach is useful for managing the blood sugar level with nutritional therapy (such as probiotics, high fiber, fatty acids, etc ….), it may be treating the symptoms rather than the source. Chinese Medicine offers a totally different outlook and strategy. Chinese Medicine, rather, focuses on restoring systemic “homeostasis” and revitalizing the original functions of organs when they are in balance, which we believe the root cause of such illness. Insulin resistance due to chronic inflammation is an example of a body out of balance that is subsequently malfunctioning.

In our practice, we take gentle steps to reverse your condition from the inside out.

The first step is to eliminate toxins from the organs and circulatory system with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, far infrared therapy, and nutritional therapy.

The second step is to reduce and alleviate inflammation in the digestive system. There are several herbs used to restore normal digestive function of the stomach, the liver, the intestines, and other organs involved.

The third step is to build a healthy immune system to alleviate immune inflammation, which plays a part in the cause of insulin resistance.

Finally, we guide you to incorporate a mindful lifestyle approach to create inner peace and calmness. Shifting your mind from a worry-based outlook to one that is more positive. Meditation practice helps you lower the pressure you put on yourself, and the resultant overthinking that exacerbates your daily stressors. This helps your immune system and overall health improve from the inside out.

In addition to traditional yoga, Qi Gong exercise is also recommended to improve the flow and circulation of energy throughout of the body. The Qi Gong exercise is simple and can be done at home, taking only 15-20 minutes devoid of strenuous movements. This technique is highly recommended for the elderly as well.

You can also learn self-Reiki to practice connecting to your body and listening to its needs, to live truly and harmoniously.

If you are interested in our integrative, holistic approach to reverse diabetes, and bring the body back into balance, please contact us for more details or a consultation. We offer sessions in-person and virtually.






This article “Integrative Treatment Strategies for Diabetes” was originally created and published by under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Mika Ichihara, M.S., L.Ac., LL.M., B.Phar., Founder, Owner and Grand Master in Eastern Medicine and Energy Soul Medicine. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio. For more information about her and her practice, please visit



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