Let’s imagine, just for a moment, that a television program or newspaper claimed that there was a cure or treatment for type 1 diabetes that you could brew in your kitchen with a few pantry items.

It’s not really all that hard to pretend that this scenario is real: almost every week there is something somewhere that claims to be a way to treat diabetes, and sometimes, this mythical treatment is for type 1 diabetes.

What happens when we see this? Well, usually, it starts with some low level ranty outrage from a first responder who caught the piece and feels that they need to share it with the diabetes world (hashtag – DOC).

Then, as it gains momentum, others get onboard, because we all love a little SoMe outrage. Inevitably, there will be some comments about how ‘This might work for type 2 diabetes, but I/my child has type 1 diabetes, and I/they did nothing to cause it and this is the serious type of diabetes so stop it now.’ (Because adding some ‘type wars’ to the discussion is always helpful.)

There will be blog posts written about it (possibly/probably by me) and someone will demand an audience with the reporter, so they stop perpetuating myths about type 1 diabetes.


The outrage can be exhausting, but I do get it. We don’t want people to simplify our condition, of have people thinking that there is an easy fix. We want people to understand that it is hard work to manage diabetes and that every time there is a claim that it can be easily treated, people move further away from what it is really like. We want people to know that, so we talk about it loudly and everywhere.

So, after watching the ridiculous claims from Medicine or Myth the other night, I turned to Twitter to see what people were saying about the idea that hemp kombucha was miracle cure or to hear the criticisms about the poor study design of the trial.

Was there a barrage of people questioning the idea that simply drinking 100ml of a fermented drink a day could possibly be all it is going to take to treat the incredibly complex health condition that is type 2 diabetes? Or tweet after tweet probing whether the ‘trial’ that decided that we’re on a winner with Kombucha would pass any sort of test? Was there a choir suggesting that this was really all a lot of hocus pocus and it was undermining just how serious type 2 diabetes is – and how hard it is to treat it?

There was now tweet from Jane Speight…

…and that was pretty much it. (It is a very fine tweet, and that #sciencefiction hashtag deserves accolades!)

And there was no one up in arms about the way the merry band of doctors was talking about type 2 diabetes in such sensationalist and stigmatising ways. If they had been talking about type 1 diabetes, our response would have been swift.

What we saw on this program this week is actually dangerous. We can’t dismiss it as yet another ridiculous claim from a nut like Pete Evans, or Sarah Wilson, or the latest footballer’s wife. We can’t attribute it to an Instagram wellness guru. Instead, we saw three qualified healthcare professionals – a neurosurgeon, a GP and an immunologist; healthcare professionals that people trust with medical advice.

And – showing some bias here – perhaps it would have been easier to dismiss and discredit the whole show if it was broadcast on a more traditional tabloid program such as A Current Affair. An SBS show, with three Australian practising HCPs? People will think this is legitimate.

The way Medicine or Myth whitewashed type 2 diabetes was a disgrace. And as diabetes advocates, we should be calling out this sort of garbage, the same way we would ludicrous claims about type 1 diabetes treatments.

Totally unrelated, but I live in the most hipster street in the most hipster suburb of Melbourne and there is a place on my street that brews and sells seventeen different types of kombucha.