Type 1 diabetes and the 'magic cure'

It can be easy to be misled by unscientific remedies. Learn how to manage this disease with research-based information.

As a diabetes educator, I have heard many people who have type 1 diabetes in my classes share what I refer to as “magic cures” for their disease. These remedies often come from television and/or radio advertisements, but there also books written by so-called “experts” promoting an herb, plant-based food or pill that will miraculously reverse the symptoms associated with diabetes, curing those afflicted with this disease forever.  

Unfortunately, there is no current, research-based, cure for diabetes. However, there are ways to manage the disease that can help prevent or delay complications and allow those with type 1 to live long and healthy lives.      

What is type 1 diabetes?

In order to better understand the challenges associated with type 1 diabetes, it’s important to know more about this disease. Type 1 diabetes is most prevalent in children, teenagers and young adults, but anyone can be affected by this disease. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known, but genetics, environmental influences and other factors can play a role in the development of the disease. Little or no insulin is produced by the pancreas so a person with type 1 must treat their disease with insulin, diet and exercise.

Managing type 1 diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), when a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the core to proper management is composed of the following elements:

  • Medication: Type 1 diabetes means the pancreas is no longer producing insulin, therefore, insulin injections either by insulin pens, syringes or an insulin pump will be required. The amount of insulin needed and the time it gets administered depends on the affected person’s blood glucose levels. Careful and consistent blood glucose monitoring is essential to good self-management. It’s important for a person with type 1 to work closely with their healthcare team to know which insulin(s) and monitoring tools will work best for their body.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity is essential to good diabetes care. Walking, riding a bike or even doing house or yard work gets the heart pumping, strengthens muscles and helps those with type 1 stabilize their blood glucose levels. Proper monitoring of blood glucose levels is very important when exercising and should be checked before, during and after an exercise session to prevent hypoglycemia. 
  • Nutrition: Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important pieces to the diabetes puzzle, according to the ADA. Years ago, people with diabetes were told not to eat foods with any sugar. Recent research shows that, with proper monitoring, people with type 1 diabetes can manage their blood glucose levels by watching their carbohydrate intake, portion sizes and taking their insulin when directed.
  • Support: Obtaining emotional support from family and friends and connecting with others who have diabetes can make a big difference for those dealing with this disease. The ADA offers an online support community where people with type 1 diabetes can share their thoughts, ask questions and gain support from others who have the disease. 

Michigan State University Extension reminds us to be cautious about “magic cures” and to not be misled or fooled by unscientific remedies. Instead, stick to approved type 1 diabetic protocols that are research-based. MSU Extension offers disease prevention and management programs that include programs that focus on ways to manage diabetes. For more information, visit MSU Extension

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