Gimme Some Sugar - Red - Pancreas T-shirtAvailable at:

One year ago, my best friend's daughter (let's just call her my niece) was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent). She was 5. There is no history of diabetes in the family, and very little warning with the symptoms.

'Annie' has always been very active and VERY smart (not that I'm biased). In May of last year, she began drinking a lot of water, and continuously went to the bathroom almost hourly for several days in a row. One night, she wet the bed (which she hadn't done in a long time) three times, and when her mom became concerned. They immediately rushed Annie to the emergency room, where they discovered her blood glucose level was over 700. A good level for a kid her age and size is under 300, and her levels were pretty close to her going into a coma. She is very lucky kid.

After several days in the hospital and a crash course in how to test blood glucose levels, calculate carbs, know the signs when her blood sugar is dropping, and completely revamp her diet, they went back to getting on with their lives. The family has made a lot of changes this past year, and have really pulled through for each other.

There are 4 types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, gestational diabetes(developed during pregnancy), and late onset diabetes (comes on later in life- around 30).

According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 1 and Type two are the most common:

*Type 1 diabetes Results from the body's failure to produce insulin, the hormone that "unlocks" the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

*Type 2 diabetes Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Although Type 1 is more prevalent among kids, type 2 is more common among Americans in general. However, the number of Type II children is skyrocketing, and I can't emphasize enough how important it is to be aware of how we are feeding our children! Eating and exercise habits start at a very young age. Especially if it runs in the family.

TCM has a lot of great points and herbs for diabetics. It's always important to discuss options with an endocrinologist, but there are a lot of great complementary and alternative therapies that may help manage blood sugar a little better. Check this ITM article for more exploration of TCM and diabetes, and here for a research study.

My little niece has taught me so much about diabetes-more that I may ever learn in the classroom. She celebrated her "Diabetes Day" (the day she was diagnosed, last week. With cake, of course!

Here's to the continuous search for a cure....