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August 31, 1999

Alternative Therapies and Explanations

Question from India:

My sister's son (11 years old) was recently diagnosed with diabetes. He started taking insulin. Later, my sister contacted a Homeopathic doctor. He told her that there is cure in Homeopathic medicine for diabetes, if the pancreas is working and Insulin was temporarily stopped by a stone or due to temporary infection. Is there any situation where the pancreas stops working temporarily and will start working later?

Answer:

In India, the causes of diabetes are somewhat different from in the US and Europe. However, most children seem to need insulin by injections. There are malnutrition causes and also pancreatic stones as well as a variety of pancreatic disorders that are more prevalent in areas where tropical diseases are not so well controlled. It would be important to discuss these issues with the child’s diabetes doctor since they would know which tests have already been carried out and which type of diabetes is being treated.

There are no known homeopathic cures for classical Type 1 diabetes where insulin deficiency is severe. There are many homeopathic cures proposed but none work in type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes has many treatments including weight loss and methods to stimulate insulin production — but insulin must be available to be stimulated — and also others where carbohydrate absorption is interfered with. Type 2 diabetes can occur in children and adolescents but is much more rare in Western societies than in India or other nations of the world. Following blood glucose levels will answer these questions and whether or not blood glucose control can be maintained, whether insulin dose can change, etc.

SB
Additional Comments from Dr. Donough O’Brien:
In all probability your son has Type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes and if this is the case he will require insulin for the foreseeable future: there are no effective Ayurvedic or Homeopathic substitutes. It is possible though that he has what is called in North America Type 1B diabetes; the incidence of this in India has not yet been reported however. These children start off as insulin dependant; but after some months a proportion may be able to control blood sugars with oral hypoglycemics or even with diet and exercise alone. The test that can distinguish between the two forms is called an antibody test and I am not sure that it is available in India though your son’s doctor might be able to find this out from the All India Institute in Delhi or at Vellore. Type 1A cases have a positive test and Type 1B a negative one.

Your homeopathic doctor was probably referring to fibrocalculous diabetes which is increasingly rare and which is due to protein malnutrition (especially of the sulphur containing amino acids methionine and cysteine) combined with tapioca or cassava as a main calorie source. In this situation there is failure to thrive, together with episodes of abdominal pain and fatty diarrhoea. Treatment is with pancreatic enzymes.

DOB
Additional Comments from Dr. Kenneth J. Robertson
The only treatment that works in type 1 diabetes is insulin and it is vitally important that your nephew doesn’t stop taking it. It is extremely rare for diabetes to be temporary in this age group and this would become apparent if his insulin requirement fell away to nothing and stayed there – monitored by checking blood sugars. Do not let him stop insulin
except under instructions from his conventional doctor.

KJR
Additional Comments from Dr. John Schulga
It is very unlikely if your sister’s son has been diagnosed with diabetes that homeopathy may treat it. In fact, it would potentially be very dangerous if you were to stop the insulin injections.

Very occasionally in acute pancreatitis, the pancreas can temporarily stop working and occasionally this can cause the blood sugar to rise. However, this is a very rare condition in children, and usually makes patients become very seriously unwell and distressed. It is unlikely that this is the cause of the diabetes. Stick with the advice given by the doctor who is prescribing the insulin.

JS