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What is insulin resistance?

 Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas. It allows your cells to use glucose (a simple sugar) for energy. People with insulin resistance have cells that don't use insulin effectively. This means the cells have trouble absorbing glucose or storing it as fat, which causes a build-up of sugar in the blood.

Insulin effectively lowers blood sugar but without certain key nutrients the cellular uptake of glucose is prevented and it cannot be converted into energy. It has to be stored. This results in obesity and fatigue. When glucose is again required for cellular energy the fat reserves will not release the stored form of glucose, known as a triglyceride. Neither will the liver give up its glycogen reserves. A major problem at this later stage is a potassium deficiency. It is required to convert glycogen and triglycerides back into glucose and return it to the bloodstream as a source of fuel. 

Fats and oilsCredit: Sue Visser

Insulin also requires magnesium. But when your cells become resistant to insulin, you cannot store it and it is lost through urination. 

The liver becomes insulin resistant first, then the muscle tissue, then the fat. Your blood sugar level is the effect of the sugar you have recently eaten, how much cortisol you have i the bloodstream and how much sugar your liver has made. If you wake up dizzy in the morning it could be partial insulin resistance due to blood sugar fluctuations during the night.

The next tissue to become insulin resistant is the muscle tissue. Muscles store sugar to burn for energy. When you are insulin resistant you will have trouble burning fat, so you will have to burn sugar stored in your muscles. This will cause muscle weakness, acidity, cramps or pain. This is especially the case when you are magnesium deficient.

increased fatCredit: Sue VisserYour fat cells take longer to get insulin resistant. That is why we gain weight in the abdominal area when we have partial insulin resistance. Insulin takes sugar and stores it as fat in your cells. So until your fat cells become totally insulin resistant you continue to gain weight. Then your weight will plateau as the fat cells protect themselves. Your linings of your arteries do not become insulin resistant, and as insulin increases, more plague will build-up in the lining. This is why coronary artery disease is much higher in people with insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance even affects the thyroid. The thyroid produces mostly the T4 hormone. This T4 hormone is converted to T3 by the liver. When the liver gets insulin resistant then is cannot convert T4 to T3 very well. Insulin helps to control other hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone as well. The adrenals are also affected by blood sugar and insulin imbalances. The adrenals control your stress hormones and the biggest stress on your body is eating a meal high in sugar and processed carbohydrates. It causes adrenal stress making you feel more nervous and stimulates your brain to crave more sugar. So you eat more carbohydrates causing your blood sugar to go up for a short time and crash later on. This continuous change in blood sugar stresses your adrenals causing cortisol imbalances, pancreas stress and insulin resistance.

What do you think is the major cause of insulin resistance?

A diet high in carbohydrates and sugar is the major cause of insulin resistance and balding or hair loss in both men and women. The sugar causes a deficiency of micronutrients, especially vitamin B6 and magnesium that are needed to facilitate the insulin function.

Other factors include stress, poor eating and sleeping habits and adverse environmental issues such as toxicity and pollution. Without improving these conditions, the diabetic will not be able to fully recover. Insulin alone cannot solve this problem. Even a brand new pancreas will again deteriorate under these conditions.

What about hormonal influences, such as testosterone imbalances?

In men and women, conversion of testosterone into the potent androgen known as DHT(dihydrotestosterone). Insulin resistance is common to women with the polycyclic ovarian syndrome and to men with potential prostate problems, due to an excess of this hormone. Normally it is kept within safe limits by the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. But eating large amounts of carbohydrates (carbo loading and sugar binges) deactivates this protective mechanism.  DHT is easiest to detect in blood or urine tests. It is caused by excess carbohydrates that prevent the liver from controlling the “bad” testosterone, so it is returned to the bloodstream.

What other problems are associated with insulin resistance?

The metabolic syndrome: high blood sugar, high cholesterol (triglycerides = fat from 3 glucose molecules) and high blood pressure.

What causes type 1 Diabetes in adults – and now also teenagers?

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone because it is produced in high levels as the body’s "fight or flight" response to being threatened. Prolonged cortisol production resulting from chronic stress and medications causes high blood sugar on a constant basis. At the same time, we eat sugar and carbohydrates often. Eventually more and more insulin is released to try to “push” it into cells or bind the glucose and convert it to fat for storage. Without enough magnesium, chrome and other key enzymes the insulin cannot attach or “process” the glucose molecules. This causes high glucose and high insulin. At this stage, we call it Type 2 diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes and medications like Glucophage or Metformin help to improve the insulin function.

However, if the cause of the excess insulin is not treated, it leads to more and more inflammation in the body. As a result the body then attacks its own insulin producing cells to reduce and eventually shut off insulin production altogether. Xanthurenic acid is a chemical we make that is specifically used to kill the beta cells (apoptosis).  It takes place as an autoimmune reaction to inflammation caused by insulin resistance. Type 1 diabetes  (adult onset) is the result and one becomes dependent on insulin injections.

Add more proteinCredit: Sue Visser

Do the no carb high fat /protein diets really end the need for insulin?

We still have to store fat and this requires insulin.

The cortisol we release raises our blood sugar levels, regardless of food intake.

Cortisol is known as the "stress hormone" because it is produced in high levels as the body’s "fight or flight" response to stressful events. Prolonged cortisol production resulting from chronic stress is thought to play a role in a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.

What can we do to remedy a loss of insulin sensitivity?

1 Taking 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day can treble the effectiveness of insulin.

2 Drink 30 ml vinegar in a little water before a meal that contains carbohydrates. The acetic acid in vinegar has been shown to suppress the activity of an enzyme which breaks down disaccharides into monosaccharides, presumably delaying their absorption.

3 Vitamin C, chrome, vanadium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese and vitamin B6 play vital roles in ensuring insulin use and the maintenance of hyperglycemia as well as hypoglycemia. The antioxidant vitamins help to prevent the free radical damage that causes the destruction of blood vessels, muscles and pancreatic tissue.

Cut out the carbs?Credit: Sue Visser

Same  protocol for insulin resistance, PCOS and prostate problems?

Yes, the first step is to: block, bind and deflect DHT (dihyrotestosterone) and restore insulin sensitivity. This protocol has delivered excellent results over the years, to the surprise of many doctors! But please discuss this with your practitioner. Many natural remedies mimic the effects of drugs you take and your prescription may need adjustment. As such you should use this protocol prior to medical consent.

1  Inositol supplements of 3 - 10 g daily help to increase insulin sensitivity by modifying the insulin receptor so it attaches to the glucose molecule. It also Increases SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) and thus lowers DHT levels and facilitates weight loss.

 2 Minerals: An adequate zinc intake is essential to prostate health and it helps with both male and female acne, insulin resistance, hair balding and infertility. Take 30 – 60 mg zinc per day. Chrome supplements and magnesium are also essential for insulin to process glucose and stabilise blood sugar levels.

3 To improve glucose uptake: boil up 1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder in 1 cup of water. When cool, strain it and take 1-2 teaspoons of the liquid with every meal. This mimics the action of some drugs used for type 2 diabetes.

4 To keep the testosterone in firm bondage take supplements of 200mg beta-sitosterol. You can juice up 1 cup of fresh pumpkin seeds if you are already making juice in the blender. (See my article on juicing in this series at Suite 101.)

5 Take the remedy Agnus Castus (Chasteberry), especially for women, knocks DHT and testosterone off hormone receptors. It is more effective in tincture form because it enters the bloodstream directly from fine blood vessels in the mouth. Is is excellent for acne, moodiness, insomnia and menstrual problems. For some women it can reduce facial hair. It balances progesterone and often results in a pregnancy!

6  Saw palmetto supplements. They help to prevent the formation of DHT. Do not take excessive doses because new research suggests that it also blocks the activity of beneficial testosterone in men.

7 Iodine is essential. Bromine present in grain based foods such as bread and other carbohydrates depletes our iodine. Supplement with 2-3 drops of Lugol's iodine. Iodine deficiency is a primary cause of ovarian cysts, thyroid imbalances and fibrocystic breast disease. (See my article on breast friendly deodorants.)

8 Take plenty of antioxidants in supplement form: vitamin A, C and E. Try some of the newer combinations that contain ALA (alphalipolic acid, selenium and herbal compounds.)

9 Take a good multivitamin supplement. B vitamins are essential to break down excess oestrogen in the liver. Extra vitamin B6 will reduce prolactin, the hormone that causes breasts to swell and get sore and reduces the sex drive.

10 Take 5 HTP known as hydroxytryptophan. 100 mg a day delivers adequate serotonin (for depression) dopamine (to reduce prolactin) and melatonin (to prevent excess testosterone from converting to bad oestrogen.)

11 Nettle root supplements also help to bind testosterone and block the receptors. The herb powder mixed with mint oil into a paste can block the effect of DHT on hair follicles too!

12 Take liver supplements like milk thistle, choline and inositol. Do a regular liver and gall flush so that a build-up of steroid hormones, especially oestrogen and DHT can be eliminated.

13 Take supplements of cod liver oil. It is rich in vitamin A and D and will help to reduce inflammation and clear the skin.

14 Avoid food that may be causing autoimmune reactions and low-grade inflammation. This is a vital key to losing weight and balancing hormones. Substitute with fresh fruit, salads and vegetables. Blood type diets exclude the foods that cause these and other hormonal disruptions or weight gaining effects

15 Eat less carbohydrates and more lean protein, especially fish that is rich in Omega 3 oil at every meal to help to block enzyme activity. It will also improve your insulin activity and balance blood sugar.

16 Cut out gluten (wheat, rye, oats and barley) and reduce the starches and sugars. Symptoms of gluten intolerance overlap with hormonal imbalances and some symptoms of PCOS.

Please print out this protocol and keep it in the kitchen to review every day. May you be free of DHT and PCOS!

I hope this discussion will inspire men and women to take a closer

look at natural ways they can control

the activity of DHT (dihydrotestosterone)

that causes the hormonal havoc that leads to hair loss.

This PCOS protocol has been used to good effect by ladies from around the globe – from the USA to the Middle East. Inositol was not even mentioned in those days, but it has now become one of the main ways to reduce most of these nasty side effects and a whole lot more. Regards, Sue Visser (Yindee) 


Clinical Gynaecologic Endocrinology and Fertility by Hulda Regher Clark 1995. Promotion Publishing. P 91, 110, 255, 384.

Diagnosis and Therapy of Androgenisation Edited by M. Breckwoldt. 1992. Diesbach.

The Cure for all Diseases by L Speroff, Robert H. Glass, Nathan G. Kase. Fourth edition 1989. Williams & Wilkins.