Saturday, March 5, 2016

Glucagon--the Forgotten Blood Sugar Hormone that can Make Diabetes Worse

Glucagon is often overlooked as a possible cause of high blood glucose levels. 

Glucagon is a hormone that works opposite to insulin. 

Insulin allows glucose into cells, and when the cells have adequate glucose, insulin causes the glucose to be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen.

Glycogen--linkages of glucose
When blood sugar levels drop, glucagon is released to cause the glycogen to break down into glucose to bring the blood glucose levels up.

So in general, insulin decreases blood glucose levels by causing glucose to go into cells and storing glycogen, and glucagon increases blood glucose levels by breaking down glycogen into glucose.

Most people with Diabetes Type 1 who take insulin shots also have an emergency kit with a glucagon shot to help bring up the blood glucose if the levels drop too low.

Doctors usually concentrate on insulin levels to deal with diabetes.  However, most doctors don't realize that glucagon can also play a role in elevated blood sugar in people with diabetes.

Whenever the pancreas senses the blood sugar levels are too high it will release insulin to open the cells to accept glucose.  And whenever the pancreas senses the cellular glucose levels are too low, it will release glucagon to bring the glucose levels up.  You need a healthy balance of both hormones to keep your blood sugar in check.  But with diabetes, this delicate balance is disrupted.

In Diabetes Type 1, the pancreas can't make enough insulin, and so not enough glucose can move into the cells.  In Diabetes Type 2, the cells become resistant to the insulin, and so not enough glucose can move into the cells.  In both situations the blood glucose levels are too high, but there isn't enough glucose in the cells to make energy.  Because there isn't enough glucose in the cells, glucagon is released to break down the stored glucose in glycogen so the glucose goes higher.  Instead of working with insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar, it can send your blood sugar levels sky high.

Because of this, more and more insulin is needed to bring glucose levels down and make more glycogen, but in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes the cells can become more insulin resistant, causing more glucagon to be released, making it much more difficult to control blood sugar.

The good news is, there has been a recent breakthrough discovery of a 5,000 year old Chinese nutrient that naturally lowers glucagon levels while supporting healthy insulin levels and helping your body burn off excess blood sugar.

For centuries this nutrient was used to treat infections and fight inflammation.  But recently, modern medical science discovered that it can have a powerful effect on blood sugar as well.

This amazing nutrient is called berberine.  It is found in many natural plants such as barberry, goldenseal, oregon grape, and more. 

In a study in 2008, Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes (Jun Yin, et. al.) berberine was given to a group of diabetics.  A placebo was given to another group.  During the 12 week trial, the patients given berberine saw their fasting blood sugar go from an average of 172 to 97!  Their glucose tolerance, a measure of how well they metabolize excess glucose, improved by 44%, and their hemoglobin A1C decreased from an average of 8.1 to 7.3.

Further studies showed that berberine helps lower glucagon levels, slows down carbohydrate digestion, promotes healthy insulin levels, reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol and helps release AMPK, which works as a metabolic "master switch."  It has shown to be as effective as equivalent doses of Metformin in balancing blood sugar and insulin.

We are pleased that one serving of our SpringTree Glucose Balance contains 600 mg of berberine, more than you will find in most other glucose support supplements, as well as many other nutrients and herbs which support the balance of glucose, insulin and glucagon.  You can go up to 1500 mg. of berberine a day without major problems.  If you have diabetes, I highly recommend berberine as part of your daily supplements.

Until we meet again,
Dr. Judi


security1 said...

Is this safe or helpful in type 1 diabetes or just type 2?

security1 said...

Is this safe or helpful in type 1 diabetes or just type 2?

Dr. Judi said...

Always check with your health care practitioner before using supplements.
In general, though it cannot replace insulin in type 1, with proper diet it can help balance glucose. Of course, anytime you change diet, exercise, medication or supplementation be sure and check your blood sugar frequently to make sure the glucose doesn't drop too low.