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Alcoholism and Diabetes

Found on NativeTimes.com and reposted for informational purposes.

Killing Us Slowly: The Relationship Between Type II Diabetes and Alcoholism
Ann Dapice, Ph.D., Clark Inkanish, ICADC, Barbara Martin, B.S., and Elizama Montalvo, M.D.

Onyx Mooney, a Choctaw, was heard to say recently, "Practically everyone in my family is either diabetic or alcoholic. I'm 38 years old and I'm not alcoholic so I wonder when the diabetes will hit." He didn't realize at the time how true his statement was, nor the physiological relationship between the two diseases. His observations are accurately demonstrated in the statistics. American Indians have had the highest incidence of Type II Diabetes of any racial group resulting in related cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and high amputation rates. American Indians also have the highest incidence of alcoholism, nicotine addiction and suicide of any racial group. Physiologically, these are all interrelated.

Conquest by Europeans resulted in genocide, great poverty and oppression for all Indians across the Americas, but until recently, diabetes and alcoholism were mainly seen as problems among Indians north of the US-Mexican border. This was true even for tribes divided by the border. Why? How is the present incidence of alcoholism and diabetes among Indians the continuing result of earlier European and US policy towards Indians from the beginning?

There has been found a physiological relationship between alcoholism and Type II Diabetes. Both are related to problems in blood sugar regulation. An elevated insulin response to carbohydrates exists in both the pre-diabetic and the alcoholic. Most people are unaware that between 75% and 95% of alcoholics are hypoglycemic. (It should be noted that not all people who are hypoglycemic are or will become alcoholic or diabetic.) Dr. Joan Larson, author of Seven Weeks to Sobriety has written that Native Americans are particularly vulnerable to adult-onset diabetes when associated with drinking. Although long considered a moral weakness and still treated as an emotional problem, alcoholism, like diabetes, is a physical disease. There are mental, emotional and spiritual components to all illnesses, but at base, alcoholism is a physical disease.

Alcoholism in Native Americans is partly related to an allergic response. American Indians are allergic to a number of the foods brought by Europeans and especially to grains (e.g., wheat, barley, oats, etc.) Food allergy symptoms include fatigue, mental confusion, depression, physical aggression and suicide attempts. After repeated exposure, intense cravings for the allergen and physical addiction resulting in withdrawal symptoms are the maladaptive responses. This allergy was demonstrated by the initial reaction of Indians to grain alcohols described in historical accounts.

Alcoholism is lowest in countries where these grains originated thousands of years ago (e.g., Africa, Italy, Greece, etc.) and highest in countries that received these grains more recently (e.g., Russia and northern European countries.) Indians in the US are a prime example of people most recently exposed to these grains and therefore most acutely affected by allergic symptoms.

Corn is the grain indigenous to what is now called the Americas. However, traditionally Indians processed corn in a variety of ways using lye or lime. Science has since discovered that this process was required to release complete amino acids and the niacin required to regulate blood sugar. Different tribes had different recipes for treating corn using this method (e.g., softkey, hominy, etc.) Some tribes still have official "corn lyers." Mexican tortillas purchased in the US have this process listed on their labels presently. In the US, governmental policy demanded re-socialization of Indians to European ways--the English language, European dress, how to cook their foods, etc. The policy was known as "Kill the Indian, save the man." South of the border, oppressive but distinctly different policies allowed Indians to continue to cook in traditional ways. Meanwhile in the US, corn was purposefully engineered to achieve the sweetness found most desirable.

In addition to the proper processing of corn, traditional diets of buffalo, fish, turkey, deer along with roots, vegetables, nuts and wild fruits are now seen as important to the treatment of both diabetes and alcoholism for Indians and non-Indians alike. The key is a diet high in protein and fiber, low in carbohydrates, grains and refined foods. Unlike modern life, obtaining these foods once involved considerable exercise as well. Cokes, candy, fast food, cakes and pies were of course not traditional. Fry bread--made from refined wheat flour--was not traditional either. Many dishes now considered to be "Indian" are the result of Indians losing their lands and cultural ways. Forced to live on commodity rations, Indians made recipes from what they had in order to survive. Unfortunately, these wheat-based, sugared, refined foods keep us sick.

Meanwhile, indigenous peoples are suffering increased problems with diabetes and alcoholism worldwide. For example, the Tarajamara Indians in Mexico, long known for their superior foot races, have also been recognized for their ability to drink corn beer without suffering from alcoholism. Until recently this tribe shunned European and industrials ways and lived in a close and strongly moral community. Now forced off their native lands and into factories for work, and with the adoption of refined western foods, they too are beginning to suffer problems with alcohol and diabetes. So the genocide continues. Yet, the effects of modern, refined foods are no longer limited to indigenous people. Related illnesses and addiction are a problem for all people worldwide. The need and effectiveness for addiction treatment that promotes physical healing and repair of physiologic damage has been studied for decades. Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, first established the link between alcoholism and hypoglycemia and the need for biochemical treatment using niacin and B vitamins. His own experience suffering depression long after he'd been sober caused him to research the need for niacin in treating alcoholism. For some reason this information was never incorporated into present AA practice.

Wilson's work has been supported in recent studies by considerable scientific research demonstrating that the physiological effects of sugar, caffeine and tobacco (up to 75% sugar cured) are the major causes of alcoholic relapse. Unfortunately, once thought to be appropriate substitutes for alcohol, these substances remain the mainstay of 12 step and drug rehab programs whose present success rates are only 7% after four years.

Even after sobriety, hypoglycemia and maladaptive allergic responses continue unless treated. New technologies enabling scientists to view changes inside the brain have shown alterations in brain pathways after prolonged exposure to alcohol. After years of sobriety many sober alcoholics not treated for hypoglycemia remain depressed, irritable and anxious, often hostile and paranoid as well. These are what often have been referred to as "dry drunk" symptoms. They are the symptoms of hypoglycemia as well. This is related to a statistic showing that one in four deaths among sober alcoholics is due to suicide. Allergic response to grains and chemicals continue to cause intense cravings, trigger "addictive memory", and lead to relapse. These sustained effects often make the thought of sustained sobriety and wellness seem unattainable.

Decades of research by others--and the research and practice at T. K.Wolf & Associates--show that cranial electrical stimulation and correct nutrition achieve healing. They provide the necessary electrical impulses to the brain cells along with the proteins and amino acids needed for neurotransmitter production allowing manageable withdrawal, prevention of cravings (sugar, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol), repair of the damaged brain and other organs, and prevention of relapse. They also respond to the related depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia of alcoholism. Unlike attempts at pharmacological solutions, there are no side effects. Curiously, well documented research using these methods to control withdrawal and promote biochemical repair have been published in major scientific journals for decades, yet have been implemented in only a few treatment facilities in the US. Fortunately, here in Oklahoma, as well as in California, Alaska and Canada, Indians are leading the way.

References and research are available upon request by contacting Ann Daupice at TKWOLF7@aol.com