Image for Diabetes
Diabetes

Related Terms

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Background

  • Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a chronic health condition where the body is unable to produce enough insulin and properly break down sugar (glucose) in the blood. Glucose comes from food and is used by the cells for energy. Glucose is also made in the liver. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach. Insulin is needed to move sugar into the cells where it can be used for energy needed for body processes.
  • After digestion of food, glucose passes into the bloodstream. For glucose to get into cells, insulin must be present. Throughout the pancreas are clusters of cells called the islets of Langerhans. Islets are made up of several types of cells, including beta cells that make insulin. When normal individuals eat, beta cells in the pancreas automatically produce the right amount of insulin to move glucose from blood into the cells of the body. In individuals with diabetes, however, the pancreas either produces little or no insulin, or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body in the urine. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose. Glucose may also interact with cells, especially those in very narrow blood vessels. This process may lead to neuropathies and decreased immune function.
  • With Type 1 diabetes, the body does not make any insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, the body does not make or use insulin properly. Without enough insulin, glucose stays in the blood and causes a condition called hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels.
  • Diabetes is associated with long-term complications that affect almost every part of the body. The disease often leads to blindness, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage. Uncontrolled diabetes can complicate pregnancy, and birth defects are more common in babies born to women with diabetes. Pregnant women can temporarily develop gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that begins late in pregnancy.
  • Further content available for subscribers only.

Types and Causes of Diabetes

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Risk Factors

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Complications

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Diagnosis

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Treatment

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Integrative Therapies

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Managing and Preventing Diabetes

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Author Information

  • Content available for subscribers only.

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  • Content available for subscribers only.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.