If you're one of the nearly 24 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes, you know your body has difficulty using or producing insulin. What can you do to manage the disease? We asked Jill Crandall, MD, professor of clinical medicine and director of the diabetes clinical trials unit at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, to debunk some myths and help you learn to live well.
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.
The following plant foods have been found to help people with type 2 diabetes.
Broccoli and other related greens
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:
Camsogia Garcinia (hydroxycitric 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.
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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