Type 2 Diabetes: Supplements Overview
5. What is known about the safety and effectiveness of these six dietary supplements as CAM treatments for diabetes? continued...
Additional studies are needed to determine whether omega-3 supplements are
safe and beneficial for heart problems in people with type 2 diabetes. Studies
that look specifically at heart disease outcomes in this population are
Side effects and possible risks
Omega-3s appear to be safe for most adults at low-to-moderate doses. There have
been some safety questions raised about fish oil supplements, because certain
species of fish can be contaminated with substances from the environment, like
mercury, pesticides, or PCBs.
Fish oil is on the list of food substances that the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration considers to be "generally recognized as safe." How well
a product is prepared is another factor for consumers to consider. Women who
are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take fish oil supplements. Fish oil in
high doses can possibly interact with, and affect the action of, certain
medications, including blood-thinning drugs and drugs for high blood pressure.
Potential side effects of fish oil include a fishy aftertaste, belching,
stomach disturbances, and nausea.
6. What research is being done on CAM therapies for diabetes?
Recent NCCAM-supported research projects are studying the effects of:
- Chromium on high blood glucose levels
- Yoga on glucose control in people at risk for diabetes
- Ginkgo biloba extract on diabetes medicines
Also, researchers in the Diabetes Unit of NCCAM's Division of Intramural
Research are studying many aspects of diabetes, including what happens when the
body does not properly react to insulin. Recent clinical trials, for example,
have been studying whether vitamin C supplements are beneficial in diabetes,
the safety of glucosamine with respect to insulin resistance, and whether dark
chocolate lowers blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity. Diabetes Unit
staff note that a category of functional foods containing polyphenols (also available as
extracts) may be of benefit for further study in diabetes, including green tea
(epigallocatechin gallate), dark chocolate (epicatechin), and red wine
Basic science study: A laboratory study
done at the molecular level of biology and/or chemistry, to obtain necessary
knowledge and background for later research such as animal studies and clinical
Blood glucose: The main sugar found in the blood. Glucose serves as
the body's primary source of energy.
Clinical trial: A research study in which a treatment or therapy is
tested in people to see whether it is safe and effective. Clinical trials are a
key part of the process in finding out which treatments work, which do not, and
why. Clinical trial results also contribute new knowledge about diseases and
Controlled study: A clinical trial in which one group receives a
treatment under study and another group (the control group) receives either a
placebo, standard treatment, or no treatment.