Diabetes Mellitus Segment 1
Diabetes is a cardinal disease of our time. The rise in prevalence in the US has been noted. This article predicted a lifetime chance of being diagnosed as 31%, 49%, and 53% in women identifying as white, black, or hispanic respectfully. We can see the risk of diabetes increase in immigrants as a function of years lived in the West. Young Native American or African Americans are up to 9 times more likely to have diabetes than white youth. Conventionally, diabetes is seen as a disregualtion in controlling blood sugar- being coarsely diagnosed by a higher than normal blood sugar level. A fasting blood sugar of 126 or greater, a random blood sugar equal to or over 200 with symptoms, or a hemoglobin a1c equal or over 6.5 will diagnose diabetes. Treatment is seen as normalizing these levels and reducing risk factors. The above data point to a soul-spiritual component to diabetes that is overlooked in diagnosis and treatment.
Diabetes relates to sugar. Rudolf Steiner connects sugar to the "I organization" -basically sugar is linked to the I activity working to make our body our own. In diabetes the I organization has trouble directing the process of glucose regulation. We can relate sweet consumption with the I organization- sugary foods are a big "comfort food". Low blood sugar is related to lack of piloting (I organization) and consciousness. The notable exception is the protective effect of the ketogenic diet on brittle diabetics. studies have noted that low blood sugar does not cause typical hypoglycemic symptoms. The ketogenic diet makes the I organization work hard to relate itself to sugar. It plays a main role in diabetes therapy- especially type 2 diabetics.
Frogs are Nature's Diabetics
In nature we find frogs using high blood sugar to protect themselves against freezing. As the temperature drops they purposefully eat lots of jelly doughnuts to ready themselves for winter. Actually, their liver kicks in and makes tons of sugar. This dehydrates them and makes them quite resistant to freezing. The "I organization" properties of sugar also relate as expected to warmth.
Hummingbirds are not really diabetic. Even though they have fasting blood sugars in the 300's and go as high as the 700's after eating, their metabolism and constant movement as well as their constitution prevent them from manifesting symptoms of diabetes.
There are two main types of diabetes mellitus- type 1 and type 2. (A purely physical/destiny related diabetes exists called secondary diabetes where the pancreas is either removed or injured). Type 1 diabetes typically over emphasizes the form principle. This type is caused by an autoimmune attack on the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin. It is point specific and the patients tend to be slender and of a nerve-sense polarity. In my clinical experience there is often a preceding "shock" to the I organization. This shock can be a divorce or death in the family. It may not be directly recognized as children can be deeply affected by situations that adults may easily miss. A retrospective study of Swedish children noted that type 1 diabetes was 3 times more likely to be associated with a documented "stressful life event" preceding the diagnosis. Here we are dealing with an "I shock" to thhe developing child.
Type 2 diabetes is a process disorder. It happens in the periphery- the entire body is affected and causes the diabetic state. A combination of inactivity, overweight, high carbohydrate consumption and genetic predisposition shifts the metabolism such that it becomes resistant to insulin. The pancreas needs to produce more insulin to do the same amount of work regulating glucose. Eventually the body cannot keep up- though typically there is still insulin being produced. It is like talking to your grandfather before he turns on his hearing aids. Even though the pancreas "shouts" with its insulin, the body is still hard of hearing- and eventually the pancreas gets hoarse. It stops producing enough insulin and blood sugar goes high. This is a metabolic, process oriented disorder of I organization functioning.
Diabetes, Culture, Self
It should be less puzzling that populations suffering from long term, systemic degradation of their culture have higher rates of diabetes (and this is the metabolic type 2 diabetes born in the will forces). African American and Native American populations have had cultural tragedies perpetrated on them historically. In the US it is much harder to fulfill one's destiny. Poverty also affects this. It is interesting that Western culture in general impacts an individual's ability to truly unfold as an individual (we are seeing the rise of diabetes in our culture). Type 2 diabetics generally have an actualization and activation problem. We will look at ways to address diabetes from this humanized viewpoint in the next segment.