Diabetes is a major and common health issue in the society, there are conventional treatments which your physician will generally first prescribe for you. There are also alternative treatments which is the main topic of this blog. The alternative treatments are not usually pointed out or even recommended by most clinicians but they have been proven to be very effective in managing this debilitating illness. I assume many people suffering from diabetes know that the main problem is the high blood sugar that shows up in their blood lab test, sometimes the patient may even have sugar in their urine. Unfortunately the presence of high blood sugar will trigger a lot of other medical problems for the patient. This is the reason why doctors will put the patient on insulin to control the high blood sugar. You may try the alternative treatments but you should also consult with your personal physician for your diabetic problem.

Alternative Treatments for Diabetes

Treatments for diabetes can include many elements. Conventional treatments in addition to complementary and alternative treatments are available.

About two years ago, when Anne Tierney learned she had type 2 diabetes, it galvanized her. “My diagnosis came as a shock,” says Tierney, who was then about 40 pounds overweight. “I used to eat chocolate all the time. The day I was diagnosed, I quit.” She also consulted a nutritionist and hired a personal trainer. “I knew I had to take action,” recalls Tierney, 51, director of corporate gifts for Halls Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo. Her action plan was in keeping with the latest research on...

A health treatment that is not classified as standard Western medical practice is referred to as complementary and alternative medicine. The catagory encompasses a variety of disciplines that include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Examples include acupuncture, guided imagery, chiropractic treatments, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage, and many others. 

What Alternative Therapies Are Used to Treat Diabetes?

  • Chromium has been widely publicized as therapy to improve diabetes control. Although there are several studies that support a role for chromium as beneficial in diabetes, currently there are no recommendations for its use in diabetes management.
  • Magnesium has been studied for years as a form of therapy to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. A lack of magnesium has been associated with insulin secretion abnormalities and has been associated with diabetes complications.
  • Vanadium is derived from plant sources and has been shown in a few studies to increase a person's sensitivity to insulin. Thus far, no recommendations exist for supplementation to be given to people with diabetes.

Plant Foods

The following plant foods have been found to help people with type 2 diabetes.

  • Brewer's yeast
  • Buckwheat
  • Broccoli and other related greens
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Sage

Most plant foods are rich in fiber, which is beneficial for helping control blood sugar levels.

There are no clinical trials with promising results for many of the other herbs being proposed for diabetes, such as garlic, ginger, ginseng, hawthorn, or nettle. If you have diabetes and are considering taking any of these herbal substances, talk to your doctor first.

Alternative Weight Loss Products for Diabetes
Since weight and diabetes are linked, many people with diabetes turn to alternative therapies that claim to help with weight loss, including:

  • Chitosan
  • Camsogia Garcinia (hydroxycitric acid)
  • Chromium
  • Pyruvate
  • Germander
  • Momordica charanta
  • Sauropus androgynus
  • Aristolochic acid

In addition, transdermal (skin patch) systems as well as oral sprays have been developed to purportedly reduce appetite and facilitate weight loss. One patch system uses homeopathic amounts of 29 different compounds to reduce appetite, but no published literature on its efficacy is available.
Are These Herbs Safe for Diabetes?
In 2003, ephedrine -- also known as ma huang -- became the first herbal stimulant ever banned by the FDA. A popular component of anti-obesity over-the-counter drugs, ephedrine was found to have some benefits. However, the evidence of its ability to cause harm was far more compelling. In high doses, it has been known to cause insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep), high blood pressure, glaucoma, and urinary retention. This herbal supplement has also been associated with numerous cases of stroke.

Chitosan has received a great deal of recent publicity. It is derived from seashells and has the ability to bind to fat and prevent its absorption. Although it is believed to facilitate weight loss, available studies thus far have not been encouraging.

Germander, momordica charanta, sauropus androgynus, and aristolochic acid have been associated with liver disease, pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.

The other so-called "obesity remedies" listed have not been rigorously studied and those that have yielded disappointing results.

Also, a recent survey of herbal preparations for obesity found that many preparations contained lead or arsenic and other toxic metals. Some also contain other undeclared ingredients. 

Before Using Herbal Products for Diabetes
When considering treating diabetes with an herbal product, you should:
Discuss any drugs you use, including herbal products, with your doctor before taking them.

  • If you experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, or skin rashes, stop taking the herbal product and notify your doctor immediately.
  • Avoid preparations made with more than one herb.
  • Beware of commercial claims of what herbal products can do. Look for scientific-based sources of information.
  • Select brands carefully. Only purchase brands that list the herb's common and scientific name, the name and address of the manufacturer, a batch and lot number, expiration date, dosage guidelines, and potential side effects.

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Source of article:


American Diabetes Association

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Diabetes Resource Center

UpToDate: “Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists for the treatment of type-2 diabetes mellitus”

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: “Diabetes, Drinking and Smoking: A Dangerous Combination”

Joslin Diabetes Center

Grant, R. Diabetes Care, published online March 2007.