We are nearing a tipping point in the realization that the over reliance on drug therapy in treating chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes is literally a dead end. A new study published by Mayo Clinic researchers finally states what has been demonstrated repeatedly in the medical literature: physicians have been sold a false bill of goods on the benefits of drugs like metformin in altering the course of diabetes. The conventional wisdom is that since elevations in blood sugar levels are associated with the complications of diabetes, tightly controlling blood sugar levels with drugs should stop the progression of the disease and extend life expectancy. However, that does not appear to be the case.
The researchers themselves concluded that “despite guidelines that confidently recommend tight glucose control for preventing complications of type 2 diabetes, there is little evidence that this approach helps patients.” Wow—that is clearly setting the record straight to all doctors who have drank the Kool-Aid of what the drug companies have been selling them for years.
There are obvious reasons why the drugs don’t work. They are short-sighted. Yes, they can effectively improve the key numbers, but sometimes numbers do lie. The drug approach does not truly alter the progression of the disease. Fortunately, there is a more rational and effective approach that not only achieves the real benefits of tight blood glucose control but also can reverse type 2 diabetes.
Short-term improvements do not equal long-term benefits
While the drugs are quite effective in the short term, they create a false sense of security and ultimately fail by starting a vicious cycle where they are prescribed at higher dosages or in combination with other drugs, all of which leads to increased mortality.
The most widely prescribed of these drugs is metformin (Glucophage), which has a profile that is generally more favorable than the other oral diabetes drugs for most type 2 diabetics requiring medication. However, it does have a lot of side effects, does not work at all in about 25 percent of cases, and it loses its effectiveness over time and is then combined with other drugs of questionable safety. For example, newer drugs like pioglitazone (Actose) and rosglitazone (Avandia) appear to be extremely dangerous. In addition, both Actose and Avandia are also associated with significant weight gain. How much sense does that make? Zero.
Most medical experts advocate the use of drugs as soon as possible to achieve tight control over blood sugar as measured by glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C) and blood sugar measurements. However, some studies have shown tight glycemic control through drugs alone actually increases the risk of dying earlier. For example, in the ACCORD trial, all-cause mortality increased by 26 percent, and the risk of cardiovascular mortality increased by 43 percent in those with the tightest blood sugar control. So, the problem is not the goal of tighter blood sugar control; the issue is attempting to achieve it with drugs instead of diet, lifestyle and proper supplementation.
Looking at the new data
Despite mounting contrary evidence, for decades now medical experts have been telling physicians that using drugs to tightly control blood sugar levels reduces the risk of developing the complications of diabetes as well as heart attacks and strokes. However, when Mayo Clinic researchers examined the actual scientific data from controlled clinical trials, their conclusion was that the conventional wisdom did not match up with the reality of the results from these trials.
The researchers analyzed 16 guidelines from various organizations advising physicians on the treatment of type 2 diabetes along with 328 journal articles, 11 meta-analyses published from 2009 to 2014, and five randomized controlled trials along with their extension studies. Overall, they found the evidence showed no significant benefit of drug-induced tight glucose control for the risk of dialysis, kidney transplant, renal death, blindness or neuropathy. Nevertheless, 77 percent to 100 percent of published statements, and 95 percent of the guidelines "unequivocally endorsed benefit" of using drugs to achieve tight glucose control for preventing microvascular complications. They also found no evidence for a significant effect of tight glucose control on all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality or stroke.
The bottom line is that there is a better approach to type 2 diabetes, tighter blood sugar control with a natural approach and even reversing it. That is something that most medical doctors never convey to their patients. Yes, type 2 diabetes can not only be controlled extremely well through natural measures, but often completely reversed. It requires a concerted effort of diet, lifestyle and proper dietary supplementation tailored to an individual’s specific needs, but it truly is a completely reversible condition in almost every case. The natural approach to diabetes focuses on the following goals:
- Provide optimal nutrient status
- Reduce after meal elevations in blood sugar levels
- Improve insulin function and sensitivity
- Eliminate compounds that disrupt blood sugar control
I am 100 percent confident that the only way to reverse the global tide of type 2 diabetes is not through greater reliance on drugs, but rather the greater focus on a more rational and natural approach.
Rodríguez-Gutiérrez R, Montori VM. Glycemic Control for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Our Evolving Faith in the Face of Evidence. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2016 Aug 23. pii: CIRCOUTCOMES.116.002901. [Epub ahead of print]