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Understanding Diabetes -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Alternative Medicine for Diabetes

Vitamins and Minerals

Alternative medicine should never be used alone to treat diabetes. However, there are things you can do -- in addition to medication, proper diet, and exercise -- that may help control your blood sugar and prevent complications of diabetes.

Although chromium does have an effect on insulin and on glucose metabolism, there is no evidence that taking chromium supplements can help in the treatment of diabetes. But chromium is found in many healthy foods, such as green vegetables, nuts and grains. Studies have suggested that Biotin, also called vitamin H, when used with chromium, may improve glucose metabolism in people with diabetes. But no studies have shown that Biotin itself is helpful.

Vitamins B6 and B12 may help treat diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain) if the person has a deficiency of these vitamins that is contributing to the neuropathy. But otherwise, there is no proof that taking these vitamins will help.

Vitamin C may make up for low blood levels of insulin, which normally works to help cells absorb the vitamin. Proper amounts of vitamin C may help the body maintain a good cholesterol level and keep blood sugar levels under control. But too much can cause kidney stones and other problems.  Check with your doctor to see if a vitamin C supplement is right for you.

Vitamin E may help limit damage to the vascular help protect against kidney and eye disease. But too much can lead to serious problems, such as an increased risk of stroke. Talk to your doctor before adding this supplement. .

Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels. Some people with diabetes have a serious magnesium deficiency. Magnesium supplements, in this case, may improve the action of insulin. 

Mind/Body Medicine

Guided imagery, biofeedback, meditation, hypnotherapy, and yoga reduce stress hormones, which in turn may help stabilize blood sugar levels.Biofeedback may also help reduce blood pressure, but more research is needed to discover its role in the treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Herbal Remedies

Capsaicin cream, a topical ointment made with cayenne, has been reported by some patients to be helpful in reducing pain in the hands and feet from diabetic neuropathy. However, people with loss of sensation in the hands or feet should use caution when using capsaicin, as they may not be able to fully feel any burning sensation. Check with your doctor if you are thinking of trying this product.

Evening primrose oil is thought to help diabetic nerve pain, but no conclusive evidence has yet been found.

Gingko, garlic, holy basil leaves, fenugreek seeds, ginseng, and hawthorn are other herbals that have been promoted by some as remedies for diabetic symptoms. More research is needed, however to see what, if any, role these herbals may play. Check with your doctor before trying any herbal product.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 30, 2014

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