Beginner’s Guide to Treating Type 2 Diabetes

The Gist of It:

  • There many ways to control diabetes but there is no known cure.
  • You can control diabetes with natural treatments like diet, exercise, and herbal remedies.
  • You can also take medicine or insulin treatments.

Let’s begin this article with the bad news; there is no cure for diabetes presently. BUT! There are ways to control it and patients can still lead a normal active life. There are many ways to treat Type 2, with each individual doctor having their own preferred methods. We’ve split this list into two segments — natural treatments and modern medicinal methods.

1. Natural treatments


Obesity plays a huge factor in diabetes and most doctors would recommend some form of light exercise like walking or shallow-swimming. Not just to shed off a couple of kilos but exercise generally helps with blood sugar control because it improves how your body responds to insulin. Now before you go all Hulk-like at your neighbourhood gym, watch this video as over-exercising can lead to more bad than good.


Changes in diet can improve many aspects of Type 2 diabetes such as managing your weight, blood pressure, and your body’s ability to produce and respond to insulin. We’re not asking you to cut your meals by half but rather gradually minimise the portion. Try to reduce certain types of food as well like fatty and sugary foods. Try to get more vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat on your plate. We know it’s easier said than done but you’ll just have to sacrifice that weekly banana leaf rice.

Check out our Beginner’s Guide to a Diabetic Diet.

This image sums it up perfectly | Source:

Plant-based extracts

Many common herbs and spices are claimed to have blood sugar lowering properties that make them useful for people with Type 2 diabetes. Being in Asia, we’re fortunate to have choices from the Western school of thought to the ancient oriental teachings of the Chinese medicinal halls.

In recent years, clinical studies have shown vital links between herbal therapies and improved blood glucose control which led to a trend of patients using these more ‘natural’ ingredients to help manage their diabetes. [1]

Some of the common plant-base remedies available in our pharmacies are:

  • Aloe vera
  • Bilberry extract
  • Bitter melon
  • Cinnamon
  • Fenugreek
  • Ginger
  • Okra

For an extensive list of more natural remedies, visit our friends at the Global Diabetes Community.

2. Modern medicine


Looks painful but that’s how an insulin pen works | Source:

Insulin is hormones made from our pancreas and is used to convert glucose into energy by feeding it to our cells. Not all Type 2 patients require insulin treatments as some of them are able to naturally produce it, unlike people with Type 1 diabetes that are totally unable to produce it at all.

Although Type 2 diabetics can produce their own insulin, their body does not respond well to it and may require an extra boost of insulin. There are three methods of introducing the insulin into the blood stream:

  • Insulin tablets that can be taken orally.
  • Insulin pens that work as portable syringes that you can manually inject yourself with.
  • Insulin pumps that are placed directly on your body to inject small dosages of insulin over a period of time.

Sodium-glucose Cotransporter 2 (SGLT2)


SGLT2 is a protein that regulates the re-absorption of 90% of glucose in the kidneys. It prevents the loss of glucose by transporting glucose from the kidneys back into the body’s circulation. Developments in diabetes treatment have given rise to a SGLT2 inhibitor that acts to prevent the reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys, causing the glucose to pass through the urine. Patients may experience a decline in blood glucose levels through this method [2] .

List of other modern medicines

There are dozens and dozens of diabetic medicine in today’s market but please be warned that not all may be suitable for you. It’s best to discuss this with your doctor and not to make any rash decisions. To give you a rough idea of available drugs in the market, here’s a chart with some of the known types and its benefits:

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

And here’s a list of meds with possible side-effects:

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Charts courtesy of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Don’t forget…

To always stay positive! You’re not alone in this as 3.6 million other Malaysians are in the same boat with you. Modern research and clinical testing are improving day-by-day and the methods of controlling diabetes has grown tremendously. Always remember to consult your doctor about anything, from what exercises to do to the types of supplements to take. Most docs will recommend a combination of both modern and natural methods so be sure to stick to it and you’ll be fine!


HealthWorks is currently running a series on diabetes, click here to read more on this silent killer.



Written by Matt Ho
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (
Global Diabetes Community (
American Diabetes Association (
Persatuan Diabetes Malaysia (

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