Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus, better known to most of us simply as diabetes, refers to a group of metabolic disorders. If a person has high blood sugar, it is probably due to diabetes. Diabetes mellitus generally refers to the body’s inability to produce insulin that controls the release and absorption of sugar or glucose in the blood stream.

Persistent hyperglycemia refers to a state in which the blood sugar levels are consistently high, even during fasting. This is generally an effect of diabetes mellitus and is in fact the defining symptom of the disease.

Resistance to generated insulin or low insulin levels at the cellular level are generally the root cause of diabetes mellitus. Insulin is a hormone that facilitates the body’s conversion of glucose to energy producing glycogen. Resistance to the same can lead to difficulties in removal of excess glucose from the body. This in turn leads to high blood sugar levels. The human body only needs as much glucose as is required to meet its energy requirements.

Different types of diabetes are serially numbered and vary in terms of causes and treatments. For example, Type 1 diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin. Its treatment requires insulin injections into the blood stream. Type 2 diabetes on the other hand is a result of insulin resistance. In this case, cells either fail to use insulin properly or lack sufficient quantities of the same. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age while Type 2 diabetes is generally an adult onset disease and develops gradually over a period of time.

A third type of diabetes is Gestational diabetes. This refers to a condition in which pregnant women experience an elevation in blood glucose levels during the gestation period. Such women have never been diagnosed with diabetes before.

Congenital diabetes is caused due to genetic defects of insulin secretion. Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid diabetes, various forms of monogenic diabetes are other types of diabetes primarily distinguished by the causes that lead to the conditions.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The typical symptoms of high blood sugar are frequent urination, increased thirst and increased hunger. In most types of diabetes, the symptoms are likely to be similar to the symptoms of high blood sugar.

The primary symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are nausea and vomiting. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms generally develop rather quickly. In type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, they develop at a much slower rate and could even be so subtle that they go unnoticed.

Often in cases of early childhood illnesses such as urinary tract infections or viral infections, Type 1 diabetes is the diagnosis. In such cases, dehydration and changes in potassium levels in the blood often follow.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are often confused with symptoms of obesity or ageing. Such symptoms include irritability, itchy skin, yeast infections, dry mouth and leg pain.

Some symptoms that are associated with diabetes mellitus as a group of diseases include:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor wound healing
  • Infections
  • Altered mental status
  • Blurry vision

Diabetes suppresses the immune system. This, paired with the presence of glucose in the tissues acts as a growing ground for bacteria, leads to poor wound healing and infections. Blurry vision is a symptom attributed to high blood sugar levels as much as to diabetes.

To battle the high blood sugar levels, the body generates more insulin (if it is capable of doing so). A secondary effect of insulin is to induce hunger. This leads to increased hunger and thirst in diabetics.

Causes of Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 diabetes is generally caused due to auto immune changes in the body whereas Type 2 diabetes is mostly caused by genetic defects. In type 1 diabetes, the body attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is generally more prevalent in men as compared to women.

Type 1 diabetes is also partly inherited. However, Type 1 diabetes generally needs a trigger such as an infection or something similar that aggravates the body’s reactions to insulin.

Steroids and stress are generally known to be causes of Type 2 diabetes other than inherited genetic defects.

Following is a comprehensive list of other factors that could contribute to the development or trigger the onset of diabetes:

  • Genetic defects in insulin processing or insulin action
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Growth hormone excess
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Infections
  • Drugs
  • Steroids
  • Stress
  • High-fat diet
  • High alcohol intake
  • Aging

Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are among the most common causes of type 2 diabetes. Obesity leads to a development of insulin resistance in the body. Insulin resistance occurs in non-obese people as well and many obese people do not develop insulin resistance. It is important that you keep in mind that while obesity in itself may not be a cause for diabetes it is a contributing factor that drastically increases the risk of developing diabetes.

Remedies for Diabetes Mellitus

There is no circumstance under which it would be acceptable for you to rely on home remedies alone when dealing with diabetes mellitus. While studies into many natural treatments have been encouraging, natural remedies for diabetes mellitus cannot cure or treat diabetes and medical attention is absolutely essential to monitor progress if nothing else. This is a point that cannot be stressed enough because of the high risk of life threatening and fatal complications that can arise due to negligence, inappropriate treatment or delays in treatment. When dealing with diabetes symptoms in children you need to be even more cautious because of the increased risks. Prompt medical care can help to lower the risk of any complications developing in the future and it also helps prepare and inform parents about all the special care and attention that is required.

If you suspect that you may suffer from diabetes consult your health care provider. An accurate diagnosis will help with the treatment plan. Once health care specialists have diagnosed the type of diabetes you can also look for natural methods to treat the condition. Keep in mind that both type 1 & type 2 diabetes cannot be cured and natural health sources that make any claims to the contrary are misrepresenting data. The condition can be effectively managed with medications however, and natural remedies can further improve your health and even reduce the reliance on medications.

Remedies for diabetes backed by studies include:

  • Onion: Inconspicuous as the onion might be, there is no denying the health benefits of the onion. According to several studies both soluble and insoluble fractions of dried onion powder demonstrate anti-hyperglycemic activity when administered to diabetic rabbits. Studies in humans have been just as encouraging, as researchers noted that administering a single dose of 50g of onion juice could bring about a significant reduction in post-prandial glucose levels.
  • Garlic: Garlic is renowned for its health benefits and while it isn’t uncommon for naturopaths to tout some natural products as ‘cure-it-alls’, garlic truly does offer incredible health benefits. Most claims with regard to garlic have been verified through scientific studies and most of these benefits derive from the compound that lends garlic its pungent smell and odor. In the context of diabetes mellitus, garlic has been shown to exercise significant hypoglycemic activity.
  • Indian Gooseberry: The kernels of Indian gooseberry have been used as a traditional remedy for diabetes in India since ancient times. They are in fact an important ingredient in various herbal formulations that are marketed and used to treat diabetes. Studies found the hypoglycemic activity from an extract of Indian gooseberry pulp to be much more efficient as compared to the seeds alone.

In addition to these medicinal plants that have been investigated there are various plants and herbs that have been used in traditional Indian medicine to treat diabetes and many of the claims have in fact been supported by modern scientific evidence. Bitter gourd, holy basil, fenugreek and margosa are just a few of the other plants found to be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes.

Diet for Diabetes Mellitus

Dietary modifications are crucial to the management and treatment of diabetes. While some foods actually work as remedies to minimize and reduce the symptoms and effects of diabetes, other dietary changes are necessary to manage the condition. While some foods may be beneficial other foods could react adversely. Your diet plan for diabetes will naturally depend on the type of diabetes you suffer from.

Until you find out which specific type of diabetes you suffer from it would be unwise to make any drastic changes to your diet. Try and follow these general guidelines or suggestions instead with regard to your eating habits:

  • Limit your intake of sugar rich foods
  • Opt for smaller serving sizes and increase the frequency of meals
  • Make sure your meals are evenly spaced through the course of the day
  • Be cautious about your carbohydrate intake
  • Make it a point to include whole-grain foods in your diet and fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce your fat intake and cut back on the salt
  • Avoid consuming alcohol as far as is possible

The best course of action would be to consult with a nutritionist or dietician to formulate a diet plan that is best suited to you, based on the type of diet you suffer from, but taking into account individual differences such as body structure, weight, height, gender, age, lifestyle and so on.

Suggestions for Diabetes Mellitus

To conclude, though not completely curable, diabetes mellitus is controllable to a great extent. If not diagnosed promptly or if left untreated diabetes can lead to permanent organ damage and irreversible damage such as permanent blindness, liver failure, heart disease and nerve damage.

Even if diagnosed and treated regularly, diabetes control depends largely on the patient’s sense of discipline and commitment to the treatment plan. Diabetes is incredibly hard to cope with, but with the help and support of family members or support groups, patients can adjust to life with diabetes.


  1. Mathew PT, Augusti KT. Hypoglycaemic effects of onion, Allium cepa Linn. on diabetes mellitus - a preliminary report. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1975 Oct-Dec; 19(4):213-7. PubMed PMID: 1223000.
  2. Sheela CG, Augusti KT. Antidiabetic effects of S-allyl cysteine sulphoxide isolated from garlic Allium sativum Linn. Indian J Exp Biol. 1992 Jun;30(6):523-6. PubMed PMID: 1506036.
  3. Achrekar S, Kaklij GS, Pote MS, Kelkar SM. Hypoglycemic activity of Eugenia jambolana and Ficus bengalensis: mechanism of action. In Vivo. 1991 Mar-Apr;5(2):143-7. PubMed PMID: 1768783.

Diabetes Mellitus Treatments - more information
Diabetes Mellitus - Frequently asked questions
3 Diabetes Mellitus remedies suggested by our users
bitter gourd remedy
suggested by nazreena on Thursday, April 17, 2008

Try taking bitter gourd every morning it cures diabetes and is very beneficial especially newly got dubieties. The fruit should be grounded and then consumed.

suggested by nazreena on Thursday, April 17, 2008

For diabetes patents boil the bitter gourd in boiling water get them to drink the water and eat the pulp it is said to lower the hba 1c. Try it, it is very effective.

Vinegar, Fenugreek
suggested by Susan on Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I have tried several different things that seem to help with my so called Diabetes 2. I didn't want to do medication, so cut portions, drink a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water and do drink plenty of water, take fenugreek and cinnamon supplements, it's been about 6 months and I am seeing a big difference and I am not always good about remembering but I try to do at least 2 of these a day. Watch potatoes and rice intake and eat plenty of veggies.