Alternative or complementary treatments spark the interest of
many people with diabetes. The prospect of having better control over blood
sugar levels or being less dependent on insulin injections by taking herbal
supplements or vitamins is certainly attractive.
But do any of the things often touted as alternative diabetes
treatments really work?
How can you get your daily chocolate fix -- and eat less sugar or calories,
too? That's a million-dollar question that several companies are banking on
people asking. Over the past few years, the sugar-free and portion-controlled
chocolate market has exploded. There are all sorts of sugar-free versions of
favorite chocolate bars. And you can now buy individually wrapped chocolate
bars or sticks in 60- to 100-calorie portions, along with the ever-popular
To help you decide among all...
First, anyone interested in going down this road should
consider the difference between the terms "alternative" and
"complementary." When it comes to managing diabetes, the latter is the
term experts prefer. "Alternative" implies that you ditch one treatment
in favor of another. Rather, if you want to look into taking supplements, you
should do so as a possible complement to the treatment program your doctor has
Many herbs and vitamins have shown some promise for diabetes,
but the scientific evidence for their safety and efficacy is too uncertain for
experts to make recommendations about most of them.
That doesn't mean that doctors are closed-minded about the
possibilities. "It's not as if we know everything we need to know,"
says Nathaniel Clark, MD, spokesman for the American Diabetes Association.
"There's always a need for new therapies and new approaches."
Testimonials to the medicinal powers of various herbs -- not
only in advertising, but also in millennia-old traditions of Eastern medicine
-- are as abundant as the flora themselves. But modern medicine demands proof,
and as herbal medicine gains popularity, scientists are busy testing the
possible benefits of herbs for treating many diseases. Diabetes is no
A recent study found that cinnamon can increase metabolism of
blood glucose by triggering insulin release. In that study, as little as
one-quarter teaspoon a day produced significant reductions in all patients'
blood sugar levels. The cinnamon also improved the blood levels of fats called
Some of the herbs that have been studied include:
Coccinia indica (ivy gourd)
Ocimum sanctum (holy basil)
Prickly pear cactus
According to a review of past studies on these herbs published
in the April issue of the journal Diabetes Care, all of them have shown
promise for helping to regulate blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, none of the
evidence counts as solid proof. The studies reviewed had shortcomings that
leave the results open to question. In short, more research is needed.
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Your level is currently
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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