Diabetes Without Medication: What to Do

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This survival-medicine website provides general information, not individual advice. Most scenarios assume the victim cannot get expert medical help. Please see the disclaimer.

Diabetes During a Disaster: What to Do When You’re Out of Medication

American ginseng

American ginseng may help lower blood pressure during a disaster if you have to go without your medication.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Okay, it’s disaster time, you’re a type 2 diabetic, and you’ve run out of or lost your oral medication. What do you do?

Here are some ideas to lower your blood sugar.

First, continue your diet and exercise. If you’re on oral medications that means you still produce insulin. Insulin works most efficiently when you (1) eat small meals not loaded with simple sugars, (2) stay hydrated with water, (3) do a little exercise.

Of course, you and your family’s safety comes first, and you may already be working to exhaustion, but if you’re stuck sitting all day in a shelter, get up and stir around a bit. This is good advice with or without your medication.

Natural Ways to Lower Blood Sugar When You’re Without Medication

There are about as many natural suggestions to lower your blood sugar as there are type 2 diabetics. Few work very well. None work nearly as well as prescription medication. Of the ones I’ve found, here are the three with the most evidence that they can significantly lower your blood sugar.

Before trying any of these, check with your doctor. Although they can’t take the place of your prescriptions, if you take your regular dose of medication plus one of these, your blood sugar can drop too low.

Ginseng Tea Recipe

To make ginseng tea, just pour boiling water over five to eight slices of ginseng. Steep four to five minutes (or longer for stronger tea).

Schumacher Ginseng, a ginseng farm in Wisconsin, says you can reuse the ginseng for two or three more cups of tea and then eat it. The question would be whether repeated steeping reduces the components that help with blood sugar.

1. Alpha-lipoic acid
It’s found in liver, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. There’s also a supplement. Recommended dose is 200–300 mg per day.

2. American ginseng
Ingesting up to 3 grams within two hours of a meal has been shown to lower blood sugar. More doesn’t have any more effect. To get 3 grams you could take the supplement or one cup of tea (using 1 teaspoon or one teabag of the cut or ground ginseng). I’m not sure how much of the ginseng you’d have to eat for 3 grams.

3. Coccinia indica
Take 1 gram of the extract per day, or 2 ounces of the gourd. (Coccinia indica is an herb that grows in India.)

In addition to these natural remedies, some studies have shown the mineral chromium and garlic to lower blood sugar. Other studies have found they have no effect. They’re worth a try if you have them.

Has anyone tried these or any other natural ways to lower blood sugar with type 2 diabetes? How well did they work?

Photo of American ginseng by hubertk on flickr. (Photo has been altered.)

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    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Jenny, it depends on the concentration. Prescription medicines are precise, but the actual ginseng plant is not a prescription medicine. It’s a raw plant. Hence, one plant may differ from the concentration of the other. An herbalist might be able to give a good estimate.

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  • Patrick Dorwin

    Over the past year, I have eaten low carb, and I love it. Best of all, my blood sugar has gone from 250, to 90. The hard thing, being a prepper, is that most of the things we are usually told to store, is very high in carbs, so it is an added challenge.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Thanks, Patrick.

  • Amber

    Cinnamon is EXCELLENT at lowering blood sugar. I’ve been type 2 for 3 years, and have never had my medication raised or supplemented. I take 2000 mg in the morning, and another 2000 mg at night.

    • nece

      Is good for people who is a type 1?

      • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

        Nece, the studies I’ve seen suggest it doesn’t help type 1. As you probably know, in type 1, nothing takes the place of taking insulin. Diet and exercise can help stabilize the amount you need. Many type 2 diabetics are producing plenty of insulin but their body has a “resistance” to getting it into the cells. Cinnamon can decrease that resistance somewhat, as can diet and exercise. But, with type 1 diabetes the problem is not the cells being insulin resistant, It’s that the body produces no insulin, period.

  • http://none Randy

    I did alot of studying after I found out I have type 2 diabetes.After studying the glycemic index and checking my sugar levels religously,I have controlled my levels without meds.I also learned that these simple things together allow me to eat more carbs per meal.It’s very good for me when I’d like to have that small piece of dessert or maybe some gravy on the side or just anything I occassionally want to treat myself too.I take a 20 oz. bottle of apple cider vinager and make a teabag with 3 grams of ginger and cinnamon and 1 gram of tumeric and put it in a jar so it can blend.I can take 2 tablespoons of the mixture before a meal and it allows me to have 15-20% more carbs in a meal without my blood sugar level rising past acceptable numbers.It works like metaformin.Try it and see if it works for you.

    • Grace

      How do you brew it, are you actually mixing this in the vinegar?

  • doc

    empirical evidence on me. fenugreek helps lower glucose levels

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Thanks, Doc.

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  • http://www.2Cho-me.com/shop/index.php?forensic%20accounting%20programs%20in%20new%20york Kaylene

    Hurrah! At last I got a web site from where I can really
    obtain helpful information regarding my study and knowledge.

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Thanks, Kaylene.

  • Anita

    This past January, I inherited taking care of my 81 yr old mother in law with dementia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and she has heart arrythmia (spelling may be wrong). When I first got her, her blood sugar levels were all over the place and learned that her old caregiver wasn’t feeding her very healthy food. I do most of my cooking from scratch and use lots of olive oil, veggies and fruits. Well, I didn’t know anything about any of what she has. (Have had a little training in all that but not a lot). I educated myself with the help of some nurses and online. I refuse to even give her any non natural sweeteners such as aspertame, maltinol, splenda etc. I took her off all the diet crap (one exception> maple syrup is still sugar free with splenda). But what I have learned is this..when she did get the diet sugars..her dementia was unbelievable and she couldn’t focus at all on anything. Now (9 months later) her blood sugars are under control and all food regulated. The only meds she is on are vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium, low dose blood pressure pills, and an occasional resperidone when she gets agitated or won’t sleep for the dementia. A couple times her sugar spiked on us>(she is sneaky and we have since hidden the marshmallows)…I got it lowered both times with a good size dish of natural (no sugar added) applesauce and added a couple tablespoons of cinnamon to it, a small glass of water (gotta be careful w/ her fluids (with dementia she thinks she has to drink all the time ) and she has landed in hosp for electrolytes being off) and made her walk back and forth through the house with her walker and this has worked both times. Anything I bake or make with sugar, I cut most of it out (if recipe calls for cup..I do no more than an 1/8 of cup type of deal. And her doctor told me he wants to know how I got her off the insulin and metformin and levels back to normal and her body producing insulin again..so now working with a nutritionist (she seems really stupid to me) and we are writing down all the meals as I make them …he is thinking of having me teach cooking classes too for diabetics in the future…go me…lol