Herbs, Vitamins, and More for Diabetes
Looking for more than traditional western medicine to treat your diabetes? Here are some suggestions, but remember to consult your doctor first.
Vitamins and Minerals
The ADA recommends vitamin and mineral
supplements for people with diabetes only if they may be deficient in them. For
example, a daily multivitamin may be particularly helpful for those with
diabetes who are
- Pregnant or lactating
- On low-calorie diets
The benefit of megadoses of vitamins is
highly uncertain, according to the ADA's January 2003 position
But it is important for your diet to
contain all the vitamins you need. "I find, for most of my patients, it's
very difficult for them to eat in the way I would love them to," Geil says.
"I have no problems with a multivitamin and mineral
As for minerals, chromium has been much
touted as a complementary diabetes treatment. The body needs this mineral to
regulate blood sugar, but the ADA says taking a chromium supplement wouldn't do
most people with diabetes any good. Research shows that chromium supplements
can help those who have too little chromium, but most don't have a
What's more, Geil says, "It's very
difficult to determine chromium deficiency from lab work. We just don't have
good testing for it right now."
Beyond Blood Sugar
Martin Stevens, MD, a researcher at the
University of Michigan, recently finished a study (also funded by NCCAM) of the
effects of Reiki, a traditional Eastern healing art, on people suffering from
painful diabetic neuropathy.
Reiki is similar to therapeutic touch, but
it's not hands-on. It's based on the idea of manipulating energy fields that
practitioners believe surround the body in order to relieve pain or cure
At present, Stevens and his colleagues are
analyzing data gathered in the study, and they hope to present results at next
year's annual ADA meeting. "There is a suggestion that there was a benefit,
at least in some of the patients," Stevens says.
He says he thinks that Reiki could, in
theory, act on the brain's pain centers and alter one's perception of pain.
That could be seen in imaging studies of the brain, using technology such as
MRI or CAT scans.
"We can actually directly test that,
and we propose to do that if this study proves to be positive," Stevens