Mr. A is a known diabetic. He did not know that he was diabetic until last year, June 2020 when he fell sick. He treated himself at home for malaria but got worse. He finally went to see a doctor. Several tests were conducted, and the results showed that his blood sugar was 400mg/dl. This level is extremely high. He started medications from his doctor and got better. His blood sugar is now under control hovering around 95mg/dl.
Today he told me his medications have been reduced to only one medication. But he’s experimenting something. He boils udala leaves in water and drinks the concoction. He reported after drinking the concoction he made from the leaves, his blood sugar goes down to 80mg/dl, but he will feel very dizzy.
I asked if he received any diabetes education or had any clinical dietician’s consultation. He replied “No”.
Keep in Mind
One of the important things to keep in mind when taking medications for high blood sugar is LOW blood sugar.
“Low blood sugar can also be very dangerous, just like high blood sugar can be very dangerous…. you can lose consciousness (go into a coma). It can actually kill you”.
If you are taking any blood sugar medication, you must know how to guard against Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycaemia) because it can develop very rapidly.
What is Low blood sugar?
Low blood sugar level also called hypoglycaemia is blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL for a person suffering from diabetes. People who do not have diabetes can tolerate up to 50mg/dl
How do you know you have low blood sugar?
It can be as simple as testing your blood sugar to know if it is below the levels noted above. However, you can feel some of the symptoms below
Symptoms of low blood sugar
Symptoms of low blood sugar level include confusion, dizziness, sweating, shaking, hunger pangs, nervousness, palpitations, nausea, headache, abnormal thinking, weakness, flashes of light, cold, seizures etc. You do not necessarily have all of them.
Low blood sugar symptoms are intense as they act like an emergency alarm which our body produces to help to save itself.
Long term complications include coma, permanent brain damage or even death.
Sometimes we ask people who have diabetes to eat smaller meals but more frequently, e.g., breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and pre bedtime snack. Sometimes we ask them to carry a cube of sugar or four crackers in case of emergency.
What to do
Blood glucose can be raised to normal within minutes by taking (or receiving) 10–20 g of carbohydrate. It can be taken as food or drink if the person is conscious and able to swallow
15cl of regular (not sugar-free) soft drink (half of 30cl)
Or one slice of bread
Or four crackers
Or about one serving of most starchy foods such as one fist of starchy fufu. Starch is quickly digested to glucose but adding fat or protein retards digestion
Or one tablespoon of sugar which has about 15g carbohydrate
Or one cube of sugar
Symptoms should begin to improve within 5 minutes, though full recovery may take 10–20 minutes. Overfeeding does not speed recovery, and if the person has diabetes, it will simply produce high blood sugar level afterwards.
Alright let’s go back to the side talk. Even though I have already said that I am not a herbalist and don’t know much about herbal concoctions, I must comment on the safety. I know one thing for sure: herbal concoctions can damage the liver and can kill you IF you use it wrongly or use the wrong quantities. I have seen real life cases in practice. Many herbal remedies have not been adequately studied nor standardized.
I will not go into any arguments whether they work or not, but will just say that sometimes, there can be a very thin line between the good and the bad effects of herbs or any medications for that matter. Leave it to the experts so that you don’t kill yourself unnecessarily.
This is the same as with western medicine and pharmaceuticals. As a medical doctor, I was taught that all drugs can be poisons depending on use. Doctors learn to discern when the beneficial effect outweighs the deleterious effects and they also learn the dosages that will give beneficial effects. That is part of what decides what medication the doctor prescribes for a patient. No two patients are the same so what a doctor gives to Patient A may be different from what is given to Patient B. This is why people should not share or give you some of their medication or give you the name of their medication to go and buy for yourself because they think you have the same complain. It doesn’t always work that way.
Avoid self medication. Talk to a doctor today!