Understanding Diabetes -- Diagnosis and Treatment
Alternative Medicine for Diabetes
Vitamins and Minerals
Alternative medicine should never be used alone to treat diabetes. But 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 by itself is helpful.
Vitamins B6 and B12 may help treat diabetic nerve pain if you have low levels of these vitamins and that is contributing to the nerve pain. 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 blood vessels and help protect against kidney and eye disease. But too much can lead to serious problems, such as a higher risk of stroke. Talk to your doctor before adding this supplement.
Magnesium helps control blood sugar levels. Some people with diabetes have a serious magnesium deficiency. Magnesium supplements, in this case, may improve the action of insulin.
Guided imagery, biofeedback, meditation, hypnotherapy, and yoga reduce stress hormones, which in turn may help stabilize blood sugar levels. Biofeedback may also help lower blood pressure, but more research is needed to discover its role in the treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Capsaicin cream, a topical ointment made with cayenne, has been reported by some patients to help lower pain in the hands and feet from diabetic neuropathy. But 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.
Ginkgo, 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 to see what, if any, role these herbals may play. Check with your doctor before trying any herbal product.