Intestinal bacteria may be key to diabetes and other conditions

Diet and nutrition affect health in ways scientific is only beginning to discover.

That is a major message of complementary and alternative medicine and apparently mainstream research is also emphasizing the point:

Saturday, at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in Chicago, researchers speculated that our unique population of microbe passengers may determine, in part, our risk for conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

No clinical studies have been launched yet, but altering this bacterial ecosystem could provide novel treatments for these increasingly prevalent conditions.

"We may be able to fix abnormal microbial profiles that were leading to diabetes, obesity and potentially a whole range of other disorders as well," biochemist Jeremy K. Nicholson said.

In mice, scientists found that altering the population of gut bacteria can change eating habits, body fat and insulin resistance.

A human study found that obese and lean people carry different kinds and amounts of bacteria in their digestive systems. Furthermore, diets altered these bacterial populations, suggesting that eating habits could affect the microbial environment.

Last month, the National Institutes of Health announced a funding initiative for a Human Microbiome Project to sequence the DNA of the many bacterial species present in humans....

Scientists hope characterization of these microbes will lead to novel treatments for obesity and diabetes, similar to treatment of peptic ulcers with antibiotics.

Does that mean dietary suppplements promote or inhibit health? The verdict isn't out. The article concludes with this quote: "We've been messing around quite a lot with our microbiome in recent years: going on stupid diets, using and abusing antibiotics, taking stupid dietary supplements when we don't know what they're doing."

An indictment of antibiotics that would likely resonate on the CAM side, and of dietary supplements that would probably resonate on the conventional medicine side.
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The Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on holistic, alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies. The law firm represents medical doctors, allied health professionals (from psychologists to nurses and dentists) and other clinicians (from chiropractors to naturopathic physicians, massage therapists, and acupuncturists), entrepreneurs, hospitals, and educational organizations, health care institutions, and individuals and corporations.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), exploring legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, homeopathy, massage therapy, energy healing, and herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. Michael H. Cohen is author of books on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy dealing with complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, including Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), and Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has been admitted to the Bar of California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C., and to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing). For more information, see the FAQs for the Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen. Thank you for visiting the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog.
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