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Question:

From Turkey:

I am studying computer engineering at Metu far from my parents (they live in Greece). My 14 year old brother was diagnosed type I diabetes on September 1995. He has some amount problems with insulin, he was using NPH and Regular two times a day before breakfast and before lunch. His blood sugar rises now and he can tolerate using insulin only once a day before breakfast. His blood sugar also remains at 120 to 130. I wonder if it's all right to use this amount or change this to half in morning and half at night. Also I don't know, this signs that his pancreas is making a little insulin if there is another way for treatment like giving him pills that make insulin.

I also heard that some curative plants that lowers the blood sugar I want to have an idea about them. Like "cinnamon" and "onion" as I heard from someone.

Finally what I am interested in is if my brother can take pills or it is better to see a physician. However my parents live in Greece in a small town far from a child hospital and due to the school its better to have an idea about you.

Answer:

This question was referred to our two pediatric endocrinologists, who have each given an answer:

Answer from Dr. Lebinger:

Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes (Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus) cannot be treated with pills or diet alone. They must take insulin injections as their pancreas cannot make enough insulin. Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes (Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus) make insulin, but their insulin may not be made as fast as it should be and/or the insulin that is made may not work normally because they are overweight. Pills used to treat Type 2 Diabetes help the insulin made by the body work better, but cannot replace insulin if the body can't make it.

Almost all teenagers with Diabetes have Type 1 Diabetes and must take insulin. Although extremely rare, Type 2 diabetes can occur in teenagers. They are usually overweight, have a strong family history of Diabetes, and don't spill ketones in their urine.

Since your brother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, he can't be treated with pills. It is very common to see a dramatic decrease in insulin requirements soon after diabetes has been diagnosed and insulin treatment started. This is called the remission or "honeymoon" phase. The pancreas does start to make more insulin again and less insulin is needed to control the blood sugars. It may seem as if diabetes has gone away. Unfortunately after a while, sometimes weeks, sometimes months, occasionally after a year or two, the pancreas usually stops making insulin again and more insulin must be given to control the blood sugar. Although some individuals may temporarily be able to keep their blood sugar normal without insulin during the remission, we usually do not advise completely stopping the insulin. In fact, there is some evidence that giving insulin during the remission period may make it more likely that the pmall amount, later on after the remission wears off and help control the diabetes. It is very important that your brother work closely with a physician to help adjust the insulin as his insulin requirements may change frequently during and after the remission period.

Although there have been reports that some herbs such as ginseng may help control the blood sugar in Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes, this has not been proven.

I am not aware of any reports of cinnamon or onions lowering the blood sugar. Perhaps you heard that they do not raise the blood sugar as cinnamon and other spices contain no sugar, and onions have very little sugar.

TGL

From Dr. Robertson:

Thank you for your questions about your brother in Greece.

First of all, I think it's very important that he sees a doctor about changing his insulin times and doses because the right thing to do will depend on the pattern of blood sugars that he gets. At 14 years of age he is very unlikely to have the kind of diabetes that can be helped with pills and the only treatment that works is insulin. Even when he gets older he'll still need insulin.

I don't think that it matters too much that your brother lives a long way from a children's hospital because any endocrinologist would be able to help a 14 year old with diabetes.

About onions and cinnamon. In fact all fruit and vegetables are good for people with diabetes as they help keep the blood sugar under control.

Hope this answer helps.

KJR

Original posting 8 May 96

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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