The Douglass Report December 2003

The vitamin no diabetic should be without

I've written about diabetes plenty of times, and how it's joined at the hip with sugar, starch, and carbohydrates in general. It's easy enough to avoid diabetes just by avoiding those sweet-tasting pitfalls. But easy or not, the epidemic keeps on growing. And that means various complications from diabetes keep on growing too. Diabetes is associated with nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney damage. You would think that getting your blood sugar under control with insulin would protect you from those illnesses, but Dr. Paul J. Thornalley from England's University of Essex explained recently that "a significant proportion of patients with tight blood glucose control still develop [kidney damage] and other complications."

But now Thornalley and his team of researchers have reason to believe that the key to fighting all of those problems might be as simple as a single vitamin: vitamin B1, otherwise known as thiamine.

Thiamine has always been one of my own personal favorites. Most doctors know absolutely nothing (or less) about this great nutrient, but it is very safe, non-allergenic, cheap, and incredibly effective-especially for cystic breast disease and now, it seems, diabetes.

Reduce the risk of kidney damage by 80 percent

Dr. Thornalley and his team used diabetic rats in their investigation of thiamine. They found that adding thiamine and its fat-soluble derivative benfotiamine to the animals' food reduced the development of kidney damage by 70 to 80 percent.

Kidney failure is a very serious problem for diabetics. It leads to a lifetime of kidney dialysis treatments. (Why do you think kidney dialysis units have sprung up all over the country in the last 20 years? Because Americans are eating themselves to death with sugar and starch, which has caused diabetes to reach epidemic proportions. And that makes dialysis a booming industry as a result.)

In conclusion, Thornalley said "since the thiamine response is independent of blood glucose control, it may well be beneficial to patients with both tightly and conventionally controlled blood glucose." That's doctoreze for what the good doctor is really trying to say. In plain English, what he's saying is that thiamine does its good work whether your blood sugar is under control or not. So it's a good idea for all diabetics to take thiamine daily.

Actions to take:

(1) Nutritionists may mention nuts as a good source of thiamine, but they'll probably lean more toward the old fruits-and- veggies advice instead. The problem is, most cooks boil all the thiamine out of vegetables. You'd be better off throwing out the vegetables and drinking the broth that remains. The other significant food source of thiamine is one you'll never hear nutritionists recommend: pork. Whether they admit its benefits or not, it certainly can't hurt to make pork chops a part of your dinner menu on a regular basis.

(2) As far as thiamine supplements go, my general recommendation for women with fibrocystic breast disease is two tablespoons of liquid thiamine (which, surprisingly, is actually quite tasty) twice a day or one 500-milligram capsule twice a day. I think this is a good general dose for diabetic men and women as well. Thiamine supplements are available in health food stores.


"Prevention of incipient diabetic nephropathy by high-dose thiamine and benfotiamine," Diabetes 2003; 52(8): 2,110-2,120

"Thiamine may curb diabetic kidney problems," Reuters Health news (, 8/22/03