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Alternative Treatments for Diabetes

Treatments for diabetes can include many options. In addition to conventional treatments there are certain claims made about various complementary and alternative treatments for diabetes.

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Complementary and alternative medicine includes health treatments that are not part of standard Western medical practice. The category encompasses a variety of disciplines that include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes.

But are the claims about various products and therapies accurate? Here are some important things you should know about diabetes and alternative treatments that involve diets and supplements.

What Are Some Alternative Therapies Suggested for Treating 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, other studies do not confirm this. 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 few or 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.

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