Insulin Resistance

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2021-08-23 (EDT)

Insulin Resistance

Insulin Resistance
Causes Dietary Factors, Smoking, Sedentary Lifestyle, Environmental Toxins
See Also Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, Stroke, Coronary Artery Disease, Polycystic Ovary Disease
Books Books on Endocrine Diseases
Articles Articles on Endocrine Conditions

The binding of insulin to its receptor in the cell membrane is the first step of a metabolic cascade leading to cellular glucose uptake. The term insulin resistance refers to a reduced sensitivity of the cell to the action of insulin. When reduced insulin sensitivity exists, the body attempts to overcome the resistance by secreting increasing amounts of insulin.[1] Dysregulated inflammatory processes seem to be involved in insulin resistance.[2]

Causal Factors

The ability of the body to regulate insulin and glucose levels vary dramatically in the general population. The main factors that affect insulin resistance are:[1]


Article Blueberries Decrease Insulin Resistance , 2010 October Natural Medicine [1]
  • Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of insulin resistance.



Associated Conditions

Insulin resistance is often associated with Type II diabetes but it can also contribute to the onset of a number of diseases including:[1]

  • Hypertension Approximately 50% of people with Insulin Resistance are also hypertensive. It is unclear as to which condition develops first, however there is some evidence to suggest insulin resistance triggers the development of increased blood pressure.[6] Hyperinsulinemia may contribute to enhanced sodium reabsorption and altered sodium and potassium distribution which results in increased peripheral resistance.
  • Abdominal obesity is associated with insulin resistance in about 50% of the cases. The highest correlation is seen when the weight is concentrated around the abdomen and upper body.[2]
  • Alzheimer's Disease is strongly associated with high blood glucose levels.
  • Stroke
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD). Insulin resistance may be associated with CHD through three mechanisms:
  1. Elevated insulin stimulates lipogenesis in arterial tissues and enhances the growth and proliferation of arterial smooth muscle cells.
  2. Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia decrease fibrinolysis by stimulating plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, which is associated with an increased risk of coronary thrombosis.
  3. Hyperinsulinemia leads to increased hepatic production of triglycerides and inhibition of HDL.[2]

Diagnostic Testing

Testing for insulin resistance typically involves:

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Insulin resistance is a sign of a physiological imbalance, it itself is not a condition. Treatment strategies for insulin resistance primarily include addressing any underlying condition. Some specific recommendations include:

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.


  • Weight loss is a key strategy to improve insulin resistance.
Article Exercise & Diabetes: From Benefits to Precautions, Vital Link; 2005 Winter
  • Exercise improves the regulation of insulin and glucose.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for Type II Diabetes include:


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [2]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lukaczer Dan (2001) Nutritional Support for Insulin Resistance Applied Nutritional Science Reports
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lerman Robert, Tripp Matthew, Bland Jeffrey (2006) Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Examining the Effects of RIAA/Acacia Supplementation on Insulin Homeostasis. Functional Medicine Research Center.
  3. Nadler JL, Buchanan T, Natarajan R, Antonipillai I, Bergman R, Rude R (1993 Jun) Magnesium deficiency produces insulin resistance and increased thromboxane synthesis Hypertension;Vol21(6 Pt 2):1024-9. PMID: 8505087
  4. Ruzzin J, Petersen R, Meugnier E, Madsen L, Lock EJ, Lillefosse H, Ma T, Pesenti S, Sonne SB, Marstrand TT, Malde MK, Du ZY, Chavey C, Fajas L, Lundebye AK, Brand CL, Vidal H, Kristiansen K, Frøyland L (Apr 2010) Persistent organic pollutant exposure leads to insulin resistance syndrome. Environ Health Perspect;Vol118(4):465-71. PMID: 20064776.
  5. Lim S, Cho YM, Park KS, Lee HK (Jul 2010) Persistent organic pollutants, mitochondrial dysfunction, and metabolic syndrome. Ann N Y Acad Sci;1201:166-76. PMID: 20649553.
  6. Reaven G (2003) Medscape News. [internet]. Insulin Resistance, Hypertension, and Coronary Heart Disease. Le Jacq Communications, Inc. [cited 2012 Mar]. Available from:
  7. Roberts KT (Dec 2011) The potential of Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) as a functional food and nutraceutical and its effects on glycemia and lipidemia. J Med Food;Vol14(12):1485-9. PMID: 21861724
  8. Fuangchan A, Sonthisombat P, Seubnukarn T, Chanouan R, Chotchaisuwat P, Sirigulsatien V, Ingkaninan K, Plianbangchang P, Haines ST (Mar 2011) Hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon compared with metformin in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients. J Ethnopharmacol;Vol134(2):422-8. PMID: 21211558
  9. Mclellan Alexander, Friedman Michael (2007) Healing Diabetes: Complementary Naturopathic and Drug Treatments CCNM Press.