Integrative Clinical Pharmacist Scott Berliner, RPh
Part of an integrative approach to wellness is to check for nutritional deficiencies that can contribute to, or even cause, imbalances in blood sugar (glucose). Chromium is a mineral that is crucial for the functioning of insulin receptors in our bodies.Chromium deficiency contributes to sugar cravings and the proverbial “sweet tooth.” Increased consumption of simple carbohydrates in your diet can increase blood insulin levels, which, in turn, can deplete a number of essential nutrients. These may include calcium, magnesium, zinc, vanadium, vitamin E, vitamin C, the entire B complex of vitamins as well as essential fatty acids and more. Designs for Health makes an outstanding multivitamin called Metabolic Synergy that is formulated to address many of these known depletions.
After correcting any deficiencies, if your blood sugar remains out of balance, you might consider herbal supplements to improve insulin sensitivity. Gymnema Sylvestre,, an Ayurvedic herbal product used for 2000 years, is known as “the destroyer of sugar”. King’s College in London published a study in 2005 showing that the gymnemic acid in this herb is supportive of normal insulin levels in the body.
A more recent addition to the herbal toolbox is a product derived from hops that can release the hold that keeps glucose (the body’s own sugar) from entering into the cells. Insinase is made by Metagenics, a company known for well-researched nutritional approaches to health. Glucorest, another product from Metagenics, is an extract from fermented black soybeans called touchi extract. This extract, when taken before meals, has been shown to “blunt” the glycemic response to sugar by inhibiting an enzyme called a-glucosidase, which breaks sugar down.
In either case, the most significant approach to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is to increase exercise level and reduce/eliminate simple carbohydrates from the diet. This approach is the foundation for any subsequent choice about vitamins, minerals, supplements, botanicals or medications.
Taking a nutritional approach and using nontoxic vitamin, mineral and herbal products makes sense in many cases, but never self-prescribe! An integrative practitioner is trained to incorporate these approaches into a regimen of diet, exercise, stress management and appropriate supplementation, along with traditional medication when needed. You do not need to choose between the traditional allopathic approach and the holistic approach. Like everything else in life, it’s all about balance.
The above products are available from our Radiant Health Apothecary.