DHEA and Type 2 Diabetes

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DHEA is a very important hormone that plays a role in many processes.  Most notably for type 2 diabetics, it serves to counterbalance the adrenal hormone cortisol and help keep it in check.  Among the effects of excess cortisol is elevated blood sugar, and while cortisol plays a role in countering inflammation, it’s main role is actually to raise blood sugar in times where the body senses it needs to be raised, which is why it’s called a glucocorticoid.

So that means glucose raising steroid, and with a lot of type 2 diabetics, particularly those whose blood sugar is high all the time, it sure seems like our blood sugar is on steroids, and indeed this is the case.

Excess cortisol only serves to raise blood sugar nominally in non diabetics, those who don’t have a lot of insulin resistance as well as high levels of glucagon, an even fiercer blood sugar raising hormone, but diabetics have issues that allow the blood sugar raising properties of cortisol to be greatly amplified.

This is the case for basically the same reason as the effects of a high carbohydrate diet upon our blood sugar, where a non diabetic will go up a modest amount but we may go up a lot more from it.  This is because our glucose metabolism is already taxed by the large amount of internal glucose production that we have, so when you add more this is all piled on top.

If you have normal blood sugar, your glucose metabolism is designed to handle modest increases in blood sugar stimulation, like for instance when you get sick.  Getting sick by the way involves an increase in cortisol to deal with the illness, with a virus for instance or an infection.  So the blood sugar of someone who isn’t glucose saturated already will accommodate this without hyperglycemia.

Even people who have Cushing’s Syndrome, very high cortisol levels, won’t really see that much of a change here, because the glucose regulatory system can handle even this, if we’re not diabetic that is.

The main problem with diabetics is their glucagon levels, and this is something you won’t see your doctor mention really because they aren’t educated in the disease of diabetes really, all they know about is what drugs to prescribe to manage blood sugar temporarily.

They do know a little though, for instance that our bodies don’t handle insulin properly, but what they don’t tend to know is that this doesn’t really have much to do with peripheral glucose uptake, it’s not an issue of getting glucose into the cells, it’s a problem of too much glucose being put into our blood because our bodies think that we are low when we are really high.

The drug companies who provide all of their education aren’t interested in limiting the amount of glucose that goes into our blood, they instead focus on increasing glucose disposal, which is what insulin does for instance, and the fact that we get worse when you just focus on this and not what’s behind the blood sugar is a bonus really, a big one at that, because this means we will need more and more medication as time goes on.

The two main hormones that affect this are insulin and glucagon, and our liver, where most of this excess glucose gets secreted from, constantly measures how much glucagon is in our blood and the ratio of insulin to glucagon in particular, to decide whether to release more glucose or not.

So this isn’t released due to detection in blood sugar, and if that were the case, we wouldn’t be diabetic, but this is a life saving mechanism and glucagon is the hormone that saves us from dying from low blood sugar, quite literally, and when glucagon is high, it commands a red alert in the liver where it secretes copious amounts of glucose into our blood regardless of what else is going on.

Ultimately, our glucagon goes high due to the alpha cells in our pancreas getting slowly poisoned over a period of years and decades from the effects of high insulin levels, which increase a toxin called ceramide and this causes the alpha cells to lose their ability to sense insulin and glucose and they go haywire.

Now in this situation, when you add excess cortisol, well cortisol raises blood sugar too, and it also increases insulin resistance, and we are already insulin resistant as it is.  So with us, it’s not even the cortisol that does us in the most here, although that will raise you up, it’s that this causes glucagon, an even more powerful blood sugar raiser, to go higher, and the combined effect is even higher blood sugar.

So anything that keeps cortisol in check is going to be helpful here, so it’s no surprise really that we are now discovering that restoring DHEA levels help insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. We’ve done a few studies on this already, including this one on Medscape which discusses improvements in abdominal fat and insulin sensitivity by restoring DHEA in elderly patients.

DHEA levels peak around age 25 and then decline from there, and elderly patients only tend to have about 5% of healthy levels, and DHEA is a very important hormone with many benefits beyond this, so this isn’t a good situation to be in.

You don’t have to be elderly to see declining DHEA levels affect your health in a negative way, and one of the effects of this is an increase in abdominal fat and visceral fat in particular as people move from youth to middle age and beyond,.

I want to do an article about the benefits of DHEA in general and I will at some point in the future, but this effect of increasing visceral fat is a huge one for those who have metabolic disease and therefore deserves our full attention as diabetics, but not for the reasons you might think.

Visceral fat is blamed for a lot of things, but it’s more like the canary in the coal mine, and in itself doesn’t do much, but when you have a lot of visceral fat, you know that your organs are being damaged by fat toxicity as well, and that’s the real problem.

So as DHEA levels decline and cortisol levels go up, this ends up increasing insulin resistance, and increasing insulin in turn, and increasing insulin means more fat in the blood, and more fat toxicity as well.  The increase in adipose tissue that this also causes makes us more leptin resistant and that in itself can impact blood sugar quite a bit because leptin helps keep glucagon in check, and now our bodies think we’re too thin when we are actually too fat, much like it thinks our blood sugar is too low when it’s too high, and this is the broken signaling that is behind our disease.

We don’t really pay much attention to our DHEA levels, mostly because conventional medicine doesn’t give much of a hoot about it, and they only really concern themselves with unbalancing hormones rather than balancing them.  There’s no real money in balancing them actually but they make money hand over fist by screwing them up, as this makes us sicker, and that’s where it’s at for them.

There are a number of hormones that present as being too high with diabetes, such as insulin, amylin, glucagon, cortisol, GLP-1, GIP, leptin, and so on, and they do a great job furthering this excess, including injecting some of these hormones right into our blood to pile on the primary excesses.

Increasing things that are low, such as DHEA, and if you are over 40 you can bet yours is, well that’s not really profitable, we’ll just try to ignore this and tell people that it’s dangerous to take medical matters into your own hands and you’re just supposed to listen to us.

One must realize that it takes a long time to fix these things, particularly looking to reduce and heal from lipotoxicty, fat toxicity in other words, but there is no quick fix to any of this, and real healing takes time.

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