Is Diabetes the same as BeriBeri?

By hughsbayou Latest Reply 2013-07-31 11:44:18 -0500
Started 2011-11-20 19:35:53 -0600 In my research about the relationship between diabetes and thiamine I discovered that the symptoms of diabetes and beriberi are virtually the same. It's easily treated by taking large doses of thiamine or the synthetic benfotiamine. I accidentally discovered this and have been taking benfotiamine for awhile now with the result that my BG is in the normal range almost all of the time. I quit taking the Metformin when my morning readings were between 85 -90 for several days. I decided that it just didn't make sense to take something that was going to lower my BG when it was already fine.

Beriberi is, like Scurvy, a disease that used to be associated with long sea voyages where the sailors had no access to fresh food for sometimes a couple of years. Plus they didn't know any better.

There are no known side effects to taking B-1, thiamine or it's synthetic benfotiamine. Please try it and let me know what happens for you. Apparently it is good for type 1 as well although the mechanism is a bit different in type 1 diabetes.

107 replies

hughsbayou 2013-05-12 20:03:36 -0500 Report

just revisited this to see what happened in the discussion, it became quite informative. I wasn't really serious about Diabeties and Beri Beri being the same thing, it was just to spark some discussion which it certainly did! Thanks to all.

Caroltoo 2011-11-23 10:26:29 -0600 Report

Just went to the site and read the abstracts. One indicates that there was minimal change noted in A1C scores during the test, but that significant changes were noted w/r/t neuropathy and sciatica pain, improved health of cellular structures of the eye, and decreased effect of AGEs. These are all changes that we can benefit from in addition to whatever changes occur in our individual A1C results.

Initial tests (on rats) were done at 600 mg/day given in equal a.m. and p.m. doses. The site sponsor indicated he was taking 900/day and finding it to be safe at that level.

Hugh isays he found his LifeExtension Mega Benfotiamine 250 mg. capsules on for $17/bottle of 120. I found the same on the Life Extension website for $20/membership price (membership alone is $75) and $27/without. So, if its the same product, wins hands down on the price. On the site 150 mg is offered for $17/bottle of 120 when you purchase 3 bottles. This site is also the source of the research information noted above.

hughsbayou 2011-11-23 08:02:26 -0600 Report

The one I have is LifeExtension Mega Benfotiamine 250 mg. I'm taking two in the morning and two before my evening meal. Bought it on for $17 a bottle, just ordered some more for a friend of mine. Since it's a B vitamin and non toxic one can play with the dosage until it seems to work. I'll find the article again when I have time, but it seems from 600 to 1200 mg a day is common. If you take too much you're just wasting it. My BG was 94 this morning and has been about 90 -95 everyday for the last two weeks when I restarted taking this

jayabee52 2011-11-23 08:19:00 -0600 Report

I was infromed quite a while ago you DO have to be careful when taking fat soluble Vitamins (in general) because they can build up in your fat stores and when you reach a certain point it becomes Toxic, or when you lose weight it becomes toxic. If that is true then I'd be careful of megadosing on any Vit which is fat soluable. If it is water soluable the only thing that happens is you just waste the dose down the toilet.

RosalieM 2011-11-23 09:38:02 -0600 Report

Jaybee52 You are correct, taking suplements is a risky proposition. Especially fat soluable ones.
They also interact with medications, in ways you may not understands. The information on reactions is not well researched.

jayabee52 2011-11-23 09:47:34 -0600 Report

Thank you Roaslie! (I have a DIL of the same name)

I am almost at the point I will start taking them to see if they help me at all. However with my kidneys teetering on the edge of needing dialysis I am hesitant to make the jump till I know the dosage and med interaction information and contraindications.

I am also now trying to research the possibility of bringing my kidneys back from the brink and how best to do that. My life never seems to be dull! LoL!

RosalieM 2011-11-23 10:04:10 -0600 Report

It is a good idea to try bringing your kidneys back. If I were going to try to do that (I don't have kidney problems), I would get off everything I can, including
drugs if possible! How liong have you had diabetes, & what drugs do you take? Drugs can be a burden on kidney as well. If your body does not make enough insulin, then it would be better to take insulin rather than drugs. Cholesterol and
blood pressure can be controlled without drugs just as well. It is not difficult.
Blood sugar can be controlled with the correct information which at
this time is almost non existant. I have had to train my Doctor, although
he is well meaning and interested, the training they get is not all that helpfull.
He is coming around. How can he argue with success which I have been able to achieve.

jayabee52 2011-11-23 11:06:12 -0600 Report

Thanks for your helpful reply. I have T2 and have been insulin resistent. I have been Dx'd 16 years. I had been on Metformin and a couple other oral meds for the first few years. Then my kidneys quit and I needed dialysis. I was discontinued on the oral meds and put on insulin. I continued insulin from 11/2006 till 2/2011. I experemented (with Dr's knowledge) managing my T2 solely through my eating plan.. In the 10 months of this experement I have maintained my Blood Glucose (BG) near "normal" levels. My 05/2011 A1c was 5.5. and I lost approx. 50 lbs. ( Wasn't my goal but it is nice! ) I am on many medications for other "medical challenges" that I have. There is a list of my "challenges" on my profile "about me" tab.

Previously I thought the only way my kidney numbers could go is down. So when my kidney numbers showed a slight improvement over 2 months earlier,
I took note and about the same time someone on DC emailed me claiming that kidney function can be rejuvinated to some extent. So I am getting my ducks in a row to make a run at that in the new year.

RosalieM 2011-11-23 11:35:06 -0600 Report

I am impressed. It was the 50 lbs that made you insulin resistant. I lost 55 lbs
twice years ago, don't gain it back now. Learned my lesson.

jayabee52 2011-11-23 11:54:51 -0600 Report

I am not saying my insulin resistance is totally gone. But it seems that reducing my weight has improved sensitivity to what my pancreas does produce. I nearly no bread at all, no starchy Veggies, ect. I still do have higher than normal BGs but they are fewer and farther between due to the eating plan I have developed for myself. I think it was a combination of insulin resistance and lowred pancreas output.

jayabee52 2011-11-23 12:12:59 -0600 Report

I had already been on dialysis 4 or 5 yrs ago due to kidney infection, and almost died at that time (collapsed on the floor for about 5 days & nights semi-comatose. on Day 6 I roused and then my son took me to hospital and I was there almost a month. ) I started dialysis then and was on it for 10 mos. I thought I'd be on dalyisis for life, or until a transplant. Surprised when after 10 mos I was told I don't need dialysis any more.

So, having been on dialysis before I am already ready to get hooked up as my access "fistula" is still working strong. But if I can avoid it, I will. as it is expensive and a bt of a hassle.

RosalieM 2011-11-23 11:59:59 -0600 Report

Read most of the article you suggested. I suspect the same result can be
obtained by a healthy diet and especially regular exercise. Most diabetics are sedentary. I am willing to make a bet that if a person will eat a balanced diet of whole foods and exercises at least 30 minutes a day including some resistance
training, you will more likely obtain the same result. Any one want to take me up on the bet?

hughsbayou 2011-11-24 10:26:12 -0600 Report

I have been doing all that and the results were, while taking Metformin, that my BG levels remained in the pre-diabetic stage, which is better than they were before I started all this but not satisfying to me. I get at least an hour of exercise 5 days a week, (swim, bike, walk and lift weights) sometimes more and eat an extremely low carb diet. With the Benfotiamine and no Metformin my BG levels have gone into the normal range for non-diabetics. Also, my triglycerides are now in the optimal range. So I have to disagree with you based on my experience. Also, with the Benfotiamine I am not getting the gastric problems that I had with the Metformin.

I also tried just the diet and exercise with no met or ben and my BG levels were better but still elevated. Did that for a couple of weeks. I wasn't willing to go any longer than that knowing that I could get better control with the drug or supplement assistance.

RosalieM 2011-11-24 15:59:30 -0600 Report

I accept your experience as being as valid as mine. We are all different Then what is normal blood glucose? I know what the target range is.
I like my A1c around 7. I know that isn't what they recommend, but I feel best
at 7. I am very active and have a lot of energy. If my Blood glucose is kept
too low like they recommond, then I don't have enough to cover my activity.
Sometimes I might be digging in the dirt very strenious 10 minutes later I am
doing something less demanding like driving on my tractor cutting lawn.
Thus the average is around 7 or so. Been that way for many years. I have no health problems at all, not even high blood pressure. I take no drugs other than 25 units of long acting insulin in the evening, and a sleep aid. They sometimes scare you half to death that if you don't have a A1c of about 5, your are going to
get complications. I suspect it might be true for very sedentary diabetics and those way overweight. The other morning I woke up a little shakey , like my blood glucose was too low. It was 70, which isn't all low, but io could feel it.

hughsbayou 2011-11-26 22:12:36 -0600 Report

According to my research a normal person has a fasting level of 80 -100 and after eating about 120 and it never goes above that. No matter how much they eat. There are other effects of overeating but higher BG is not one of them. Mine was 156 fasting and 180 -190 when diagnosed (April 2011). After starting the Metformin, eating a low carb diet and upping my exercise I was hitting 110 fasting and 140 two hours after meals, but was still extremely sensitive to carbs. If I ate a higher carb meal (over 30g) I would go higher for awhile but it would come back down. Then I started taking this B-1 synthetic Benfotiamine which apparently is what they use in Europe, and now my fasting is 90 -95 and after eating is 125 or so. If I measure right after eating I will see it hit 150 but that only lasts for an hour or so. My last A1c was 5.4. I have more energy now and I doing about an hour a day of various exercise like swimming and biking, some weight lifting. I now feel like I can up that and get some benefit from it and may take up jogging again. I have stopped taking the Metformin as it was causing gastric distress. If, like me, one isn't a real severe case it is possible to get this under control. I won't be really happy until my BG doesn't spike after eating but for now according to the standard measures I'm no longer even pre-diabetic.

hughsbayou 2011-11-23 09:10:57 -0600 Report

Yes, I'm aware of that, but the literature seems to indicate that there have been no known side effects to this particular substance. is one example of the research.

RosalieM 2011-11-23 10:06:52 -0600 Report

"Literature" in regard to suppliments is not to be trusted. Supplement makers and
sellers are not required by the FDA to do long and expensive research. They see diabetics coming a mile away and are ready to tell you and sell you anything.

jayabee52 2011-11-23 09:19:07 -0600 Report

unfortunately this article is in a paysite, so I can only get an abstract, which does not address the issue.

hughsbayou 2011-11-23 10:35:14 -0600 Report

google benfotiamine and diabetes for a more exhaustive list. Also a very good youtube video on research in england. This supplement has been in use in Europe for quite awhile. While I agree that supplement manufacturers are not always the best source of info, it seems like the research is quite solid on this. No one is getting rich selling this supplement. What is more interesting is that none of the sites I have found concerning diabetes even mention this, it's all about the drugs like Metformin which certainly do have side effects. I have experienced them myself. If the Met doesn't work they want to move you to something more expensive. In this country, even at research universities, almost all drug research is paid for by drug companies these days. In the old days it was paid for by the government. This leads to no research being done on simple cost effective treatments and a lot done on much more financially viable products. In England the research on this has been done by the NIH which is looking to reduce costs.

Copperchef 2011-11-23 07:08:49 -0600 Report

Don't believe there is any corilation between the diseases. Also, don't believe in physician heal thy self.
There are 2 types of beriberi, one is wet and one is a dry type. Only proper testing by an endocrinologist can tell you what is going on.
Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of beriberi today. Scientists believe that it was the excessive use of rum on board ships that blocked the sailors bodies from using thiamine to breakdown the food to produce energy. This causes symptoms such as difficulty walking, lack of energy, leg pain and rapid heart beat.
There is however a form of beriberi that is genetic. This attacks the circulatory system.
However, like you said, there is no known side affects to taking B-1 as a supplement. It is beneficial to some but not to all. I do know that doctors use it to help patients who do not get enough food intake to help bolster there energy levels. Before my father passed, he was on a B-1 regimen on a bi-weekly basis. It did wonders for his alertness and interaction levels.

Alijambo 2013-07-31 11:44:18 -0500 Report

Conversely, I believe there is a connection between the diseases. I am sure that there is a huge issue with 'sub-clinical' thiamin deficiency throughout the Western world nowadays. Many people display sub-clinical symptoms. Lack of energy, leg pain (intermittent claudication), brain-fog, digestive issues, irritability, and, funnily enough, an inability to digest carbohydrates effectively.

Yes, alcoholism can be a cause of thiamin deficiency, but so can gut damage as in the the case of Crohn's, Celiac or even severe gluten sensitivity. People on diuretics can also be very deficient. Many with Diabetes also suffer with Candida and yeast infections. Yeast fermentation in the gut produces alcohol. So, the liver is having to constantly process low levels of alcohol and that in itself could contribute to thiamin and other B vitamin deficiencies.

I believe there is far more of a connection than most people realise.

West Nipissing
West Nipissing 2011-11-29 07:32:14 -0600 Report

when this person was diagnosed with diabetes type 1, he was sent to the hospital in Sudbury to have his thyroid zapped. However, there was no medication prescribed. Can this result in becoming depressed and having anxiety attacks?

hughsbayou 2011-11-23 08:07:08 -0600 Report

Well, I think you are right that it is not the same. I noticed that there is Thiamine in my daily vitamin that my doctor gave me, but it didn't do the job. Apparently there is a difference in the Benfotiamine which is actually a synthetic form of Thiamine. Thiamine is water soluble and the Benfotiamine is lipid soluable which apparently allows it to more easily enter the cells where it aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates. good article here: and an abstract here:

hughsbayou 2011-11-21 19:35:59 -0600 Report

Just did a little more reading and discovered that benfotiamine, the synthetic form, is more effective than thiamine because it is fat soluble and can more easily enter the cells. It's very inexpensive and has no known drug interactions or side effects. Only possibility is allergic but not reported anywhere so far.

jayabee52 2011-11-21 19:39:18 -0600 Report

LoL! I'm beginning to wonder if you own stock in a suppliment manufacturing company? (just kidding!)

hughsbayou 2011-11-21 23:30:59 -0600 Report

Yeah, I'd be making a fortune on these 13 cent pills! LOL! No, but I'm sure glad there are such companies and most of them are more geared to helping people than the drug companies. It's interesting that the research in this area is mostly being done in Britain by researchers working for the NIH. Their goal is to find inexpensive and effective treatments, not find some new way to sell something.

RosalieM 2011-11-23 10:12:33 -0600 Report

No difference between drug companies and suppliment companies, they are both
in it for the money. The only difference is the drug cmpanies are required to meet certain standards by the Government, supplement companies are not.
supplement companies usually put down the drug companies to gain your trust.

jayabee52 2011-11-22 17:16:41 -0600 Report

How much benfotiamine need one take? And since it is fat soluable rather than water soluable there is a danger of overdose. How much is too much?

hughsbayou 2011-11-23 08:02:07 -0600 Report

The one I have is LifeExtension Mega Benfotiamine 250 mg. I'm taking two in the morning and two before my evening meal. Bought it on for $17 a bottle, just ordered some more for a friend of mine. Since it's a B vitamin and non toxic one can play with the dosage until it seems to work. I'll find the article again when I have time, but it seems from 600 to 1200 mg a day is common. If you take too much you're just wasting it. My BG was 94 this morning and has been about 90 -95 everyday for the last two weeks when I restarted taking this.

jayabee52 2011-11-22 18:32:51 -0600 Report

"BU" — not familiar with that designation. and is the 2000 the suggested dosage per day or is it the point at which one is in danger of oversose?

jayabee52 2011-11-22 18:56:18 -0600 Report


No for me I believe that was one of the lowest times in my life emotionally. And I considered stopping dialysis and lettng the disease take me. Glad I didn't give in to that consideration because within a year of starting dialysis my life improved immensely in the many ways that I was citing as the reasons for my wanting to end it.

REWART2008 2011-11-22 18:45:45 -0600 Report

Glad to hear about the good news with your kidneys, my mother went through the kidnry failure and dialysis, its not a pretty thing.

Caroltoo 2011-11-22 18:49:40 -0600 Report

Who do you buy it from? I'm with jb, I'm finding 150 mg and 250 mg and a dosage of 1-4 capsules a day.

jayabee52 2011-11-22 16:02:26 -0600 Report

I have looked in Walmart Pharmacy asiles for *Bento*, and for Biotin. I think I may have to go online to find these. Suggestions as to which online provider would be good?

EDIT: should be "Benfo" as an abbreviation for benfotiamine. Sorry for the confusion

Caroltoo 2011-11-22 16:08:20 -0600 Report

I'm not familiar with Bento except that it is the local name for a Japanese style plate lunch (obviously another usage of the term).

Biotin I buy in a local health food store and get the 5000 mcg size. The product in made by NOW. It's a vegan formula and the label states that it is helpbul in metabolizing amino acids, so might be beneficial for kidney function also.

jayabee52 2011-11-22 16:17:19 -0600 Report

I shortened the name of benfotiamine (and I misspelled it too)

Biotin is said to be good if one is using ALA because ALA uses up Biotin. And I just ran out of ALA so gotta get that too.

Caroltoo 2011-11-22 16:29:30 -0600 Report

When you find a source for benfotiamine, would you let me know too, please. I looked yesterday in my local health food store with no luck.

Caroltoo 2011-11-22 19:08:35 -0600 Report

I found it there and on Life Extension. At, there is a MegaBenfotiamine which is 250 mg. Packaged in bottles of 120 for $27.00. 1-4 capsules/day is recommended dosage.

Type1Lou 2011-11-21 17:24:28 -0600 Report

Suzy Cohen in her book "Diabetes Without Drugs" makes the case that many of today's health problems (not just diabetes) are due to our over-processed foods in addition to our poor eating habits as a culture. She makes some very compelling arguments and she is also is a big fan of using supplements.

hughsbayou 2011-11-21 23:35:26 -0600 Report

It sure does seem like it may be the real problem. It's been talked about for years in the alternative health circles. And in the organic agriculture movement. Our soils have become depleted leading to big plants with nothing in them but the starch. I'm 63 yrs old and was studying alternatives to modern agriculture back in my youth. I've worked on many dairy farms trimming the hooves of the cows. When it's just you and the farmer and the cows all day you end up talking about a lot of interesting things. I've been to probably over 150 different farms during my 35 yr career and learned alot about what the farmers actually think. It has changed radically in the last 15 yrs since the big aggregation. Now it's hard to find a farmer, they are all some kind of technician or manager. Not the same thing.

RosalieM 2011-11-23 10:34:01 -0600 Report

True soils have become depleted, but the nutrients are replaced with chemicals nutrients which I do not approve of. I have an organic garden, sort of. I have never used pestacides or chemical fertilizer on my garden. However accross the street are 80 acres of farm land on which they spray chenmicals. So how organic is my garden really? When people tell me the soils are depleted, I ask them where the food used to make the supplements are grown? That usually ends the conversation. Your liver can clear the pesticides. However iin addition to the pesticides in your foods you add the chemicals added to processed foods, now your liver is on overload. That is why you don't feel good and you can't get your blood glucose down. I am in the food bussiness, I produce whole food and get trade journals from the food industry. You would not believe what they put in food! You will not believe how well you will feel, how much energy you will have
and how easy it is to control blood glucose on whole foods. You are better off
with a balanced diet of non organic whole food than an unbalanced diet because
you cannot affiord all the organic food you need. Your liver can clear pesticides,
but your body cannot make up for missing nutrients. Supplements are concentrated pesticide laden pills.

hughsbayou 2011-11-23 11:17:51 -0600 Report

There is a difference between the macro nutrients in the soils and the micronutrients. It is actually quite easy to grow big healthy looking plants if you get your N/P/K balance right but that doesn't mean those plants are as rich in vitamins and minerals as they used to be. I have been an organic farmer and food user my whole life and still I have become T2 diabetic. I was not in any of the risk groups. I am a big advocate of the "eat real food" approach to life, but apparently it is not enough.

RosalieM 2011-11-23 10:18:44 -0600 Report

Suzy Cohen is correct about the processed food, but not about the supplements.
You don't need supplements if you have a balanced diet of whole (unprocessed foods)It is ok to cook foods properly. Having a diet of whole unprocessed foods is not difficuklt to achieve. Much easier to keep blood sugar down.

Caroltoo 2011-11-23 10:39:14 -0600 Report

Respectfully, disagreeing. Soil across our wonderful land has been depleted of many sources of nutrients and studies have shown produce grown in these fields have reduced vitamin/mineral content. This is not an organic/inorganic farming methodology issue. Completely agree organic, unprocessed food is healthier, but because of depleted soil some supplimentation is needed.

annesmith 2011-11-21 23:17:31 -0600 Report

Yes…I do believe that many of today's health problems are due to our over-processed foods in addition to our poor eating habits. I started eating a lot of celery and more greens—-iron to my diet, and do I ever feel better. There is something in cooked celery that helps me in a low tremendously. When I eat cooked broccoli, later on and for 3 days or so afterward I feel as if someone gave me a HUGE strong lift…ANNE

Type1Lou 2011-11-22 17:07:35 -0600 Report

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts) provide many outstanding benefits. I eat a lot of salads and shred carrots on them and also sprinkle them with roasted sunflower seeds or chopped nuts. I love the crunch of celery and will often have it with peanut butter (all-natural PB only with just peanuts and salt as ingredients). No question that my "diabetic diet" is healthier than my pre-diabetes diet.

Type1Lou 2011-11-23 17:51:57 -0600 Report

I so totally agree. I go through a large jar of the Smucker's Natural PB every two weeks. I can't stand the taste and texture of the other PB's now! Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

MEGriff1950 2011-11-21 15:14:24 -0600 Report

Thank you for the information, I have been researching supplements myself lately. I have seen benfotiamine mentioned several times, I will look into it further. I want to get off of Metformin too.

dietcherry 2011-11-21 13:19:26 -0600 Report

Fascinating what youve put forth here!
I have always supplemented by D diet with an array of vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Although the medical community tells us that if we are eating a balanced diet we are getting all the nutrients we need, Id rather be safe than sorry.
There are too many external factors (stress, environmental toxins, illness, etc.) that can effect our ability to maintain healthy levels by diet alone.
So although they can recommend an average RDA for most supplements it cant account for every individual persons needs.
I strongly urge everyone to keep your Dr. updated on any supplementation so he can advise you of drug interactions or toxicity concerns! Great topic!!

RosalieM 2011-11-23 10:44:57 -0600 Report

In this case the medical community is correct. I have been studying whole food and diet for over 30 years. I am 73 years old, never took a supplement in my life.
I have been diabetic for 17 years. Have no health problems. My body does not make enough insulin so I take one shot of 25 units at bed time to make up the shortage. I have more energy than I know what to do with. I run a bussiness
take care of 3 acres of lawn, my home and garden. On Nov 7 I had my spine fused, major sugery. I required no pain medication and am healing so quickly my
surgeon is surprised. He told me I would heal more slowly because I am 73 and a diabetic. I got permission to lap swim onlty 17 days after surgery. I went into it
fit well noursihed. Good health and energy iare waiting for you, should you take the challenge.

MEGriff1950 2011-11-21 15:12:20 -0600 Report

Hey Cherry, it is wise to get all you nutrition needs from food according to nutritionists. I saw a show on public television once where they set a huge table with food that a person would need to consume in order to reach all of the daily recommend amounts. They chose foods that were as high in nutrition as they could find. The table held enough food to fill over 3 full grown adult males. My dr also recommends a good daily vitamin plus has me taking extra D and C. Diabetics are highly susptable to infections so my Dr. has me taking 2,000 mg of C daily.

annesmith 2011-11-21 23:19:51 -0600 Report

That is very interesting. I tried vitamins, and it sent my sugars super super high, so now I eat real foods for the added vitamins, and I feel a heck of a lot better. I eat real celery, real broccoli, and real carrots. I always cook them though, as, if I eat them raw they send me too low. ANNE

Caroltoo 2011-11-23 10:49:56 -0600 Report

That could be because of the cellulose (read sugar) in the capsules coating. Try tablets w/out gel caps.

dietcherry 2011-11-21 16:40:46 -0600 Report

Hey Mary! Yes most say that we can consume the RDAs of essential vitamins by eating a balanced diet but in alot of cases its just not true.
Since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, it is important to look for the Quality Assurance Guarantee seal on the bottle. This means the supplement has been analyzed by an independent laboratory guaranteeing that what is listed on the label is actually contained within. These products also meet FDA standards.
Without it you may not be getting what you paid for.

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