Although the majority of people with diabetes have Type II, about 10% of diabetics carry the Type I diabetes diagnosis. In type 1, the person develops autoantibodies against the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. Thus, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease.
People with this type can be children or adolescents when the problem first starts, but it is also possible to develop this problem in mid-life as well. Many but not all of the same natural remedies for diabetes that can help type 2 diabetics may also be useful in the autoimmune form of the condition, but sometimes certain options stand out for one or the others.
Obviously type 1 diabetics must use insulin. Diet, exercise, and natural supplements will not replace the need for insulin in this condition, and it would be life-threatening to stop insulin in hopes that a natural remedy alone would “fix” the problem.
However, a research study by Cvjeticanin et al in 2010 in the British Journal of Nutrition opens the door to another possible natural strategy to add to insulin for treating type 1 diabetes. It is using dried olive leaf extract to cut down the severity of the autoimmunity in mice with a type 1-like form of diabetes. The scientists found that the olive leaf extracts were able to lower blood sugars and limit the amount of weight loss that the type 1 diabetic mice developed. The mechanisms are not completely clear, but they may involve antiinflammatory and antioxidant effects. For example, the olive leaf extract contains many different ingredients, including oleuropein, luteolin, and quercetin. Ingredients that may have specific antidiabetic properties include oleanolic, ursolic, and maslinic acids.
This would be an interesting line of research to follow up. Perhaps it might also be useful for people with type 1 diabetes who have had to get pancreatic islet cell transplants, to help reduce the risk of their autoimmune problem attacking the transplanting cells.
The idea of using dried olive leaf extract is still in the research stages, but it may be worth checking out. As always, it is a risk-benefit decision for you to make with your own doctor. Health food stores carry dried olive leaf extract products now. Other studies have apparently suggested they may be useful for reducing the autoimmunity of multiple sclerosis (another animal study), building bone in osteoporosis, and other general health-promoting effects. So, while it is early in the research, this is a hopeful finding on olive leaf cutting down the autoimmune processes in mice with type 1 diabetes.