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Benfotiamine in the Management of Insulin Resistance in Type II Diabetes: A Personal Account
Commentary by Stuart Lindsey, PharmD
OMNS (May 12, 2023) It has been speculated that type II diabetes is actually a carbohydrate metabolism problem. I am also speculating that type II diabetes is more realistically a subject of insulin resistance as much as it is of insulin input. I think regulating insulin resistance can be accomplished by intake of benfotiamine.
Benfotiamine [C19H23N4O6PS] is basically a fat-soluble version of the water-soluble B-vitamin thiamine [vitamin B1, C12H17N4OS+]. Your body changes benfotiamine into thiamine. But because benfotiamine is better absorbed, it raises thiamine levels better than thiamine alone.
Regulating insulin resistance is better than using insulin injections for type II because insulin produces hyperinsulinemia which is not good for people. It is my contention that using benfotiamine to lower insulin resistance stops the side effects of hyperinsulinemia.
Thiamine loss can be caused by several circumstances. Having a diet heavy in processed cereals and white rice causes the body to eject thiamine when it is needed for heart output. Thiamine deficiency symptoms include weakened heart muscle and even heart failure.
A bit of backstory
I was in the hospital two years ago with an undiagnosed cardiovascular condition. While they were trying to figure out what was wrong with me they didn't feed me for three days and gave me very little to drink in anticipation of me having a further problems. With a monitor over my head monitoring my vitals, I discovered something very interesting. My parameters that were out of line, including blood pressure and blood sugars, all went back to normal. Watching these values correct themselves left me suspecting that what was wrong with me was that I was overfed. I was suddenly suspicious of pharmaceutical medicine. When I told the doctors in the hospital to basically stay away from me, they wrote on my chart that they had an unusual situation: "We have a pharmacist in our care that doesn't trust us." Indeed I didn't, especially when one of the consultant doctors actually recommended brain surgery. I am convinced that I had some kind of cardiomyopathy from having two Covid shots. Now, two years later, my doctor thinks I might be right.
I decided to quit taking my blood pressure meds and my sugar meds for a while to see what would happen in a longer time period. The only thing I continued to take was a daily 500 mg dose of benfotiamine and an occasional tramadol. I was discharged from the hospital with no diagnosis, but I continued to take benfotiamine and tramadol. A scheduled visit had my primary care doctor do my hemoglobin A1c. Everyone told me that me not taking my sugar meds was going to make me sick but 2 years this month I got my test results back and I'm 6.3 on the hemoglobin A1c scale. It looks like the benfotiamine had manipulated my insulin resistance.
Why it seems to work
My search of the literature indicates to me that benfotiamine has an effect on insulin resistance that thiamine by itself does not. Using benfotiamine to lower insulin resistance allows easier access for body sugars to reach the tissues. I think that easier access by the tissues allows stimulation of leptin (which controls satiety). This allows the side effect of benfotiamine of being a good appetite suppressant which, over a period of time, causes the loss of weight by ignoring some of your calories because you're not hungry. In the 10 years that I have been taking benfotiamine I have lost almost 100 pounds. Illness caused some of my weight loss but that long term suppression of my appetite seems to have had a cumulative effect on my body weight. This reduction could also be a reason that my insulin resistance was more responsive; I have less weight to carry around to feed.
I have had feedback from some of my vitamin customers about taking their vitamins on the day that they were going to eat a holiday meal and they believed that the benfotiamine so successfully killed their appetites that it ruined their dinners for them. In other words, you're just not hungry. What a side effect!
I think using benfotiamine to help regulate heart output is like having it act like an active diuretic that lowers the kidney load and thus possibly lower need for dialysis. I have a friend who had a history of heart failure. I put him on to benfotiamine. His doctor said he was the first person in a thousand that he had seen removed from dialysis. Anything that may reduce need for dialysis deserves further investigation.
The issue of deemphasizing insulin brings up the practice of checking your blood sugar not only once a day but several times a day. Trying to monitor thiamine is not easy: there is no direct measurement of thiamine in the body. You have to do it indirectly by using thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP). But you know you have had too much thiamine when your urine starts to smell a bit "vitaminy." Then you back off for a couple of days, and the smell of your urine will go away. I assume that your blood levels have a commensurate drop in their values because you brought it back into where there is no spillover into the urine.
The appetite suppression of benfotiamine is a function that does not appear right away. I did not look at the appetite suppression issue until my weight had already started to drop and I was not sure why it was dropping. It is not an immediate effect. For me it took 10 years, but again, I have lost almost 100 lbs. I conclude the appetite suppression is an indirect effect of benfotiamine slowly lowering your insulin resistance. This may indeed be a win-win situation.
(Readers may remember Dr. Stuart Lindsey as the Frustrated Pharmacist http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v08n05.shtml with a special interest in type 2 diabetes http://www.doctoryourself.com/omns/v08n19.shtml . As with all OMNS releases, these essays are not meant to substitute for medical advice. Persons should consult their own doctor before making any health decision. - Andrew W. Saul, Editor)
For Further Reading:
1. Thornalley PJ: The potential role of thiamine (vitamin B-1) in diabetic complications. Curr Diabetes Rev, 2005; 1:287-298
2. Brighthope IE (2012) The Vitamin Cure for Diabetes: Prevent and Treat Diabetes Using Nutrition and Vitamin Supplementation. Basic Health Publications ISBN-13: 978-1591202905.
4. World Health Organization. Diabetes. Retrieved from
5. Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Study Group, Gerstein HC, Miller ME, Byington RP, et al: Effects of intensive glucose lowering in type II diabetes. N Engl J Med, 2008; 358: 2545-2559.
6. Substituting Vitamins and Supplements for Pharmaceuticals in Type 2 Diabetes. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, May 28, 2012 http://www.doctoryourself.com/omns/v08n19.shtml
7. Confessions of a Frustrated Pharmacist by Stuart Lindsey, PharmD. (OMNS, Jan 30, 2012) http://www.doctoryourself.com/omns/v08n05.shtml
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