Alternative medicine is a health-related treatment that is not formally classified as a western medical practice. Also known as complementary medicine, alternative medicine can include dietary and lifestyle changes, and includes everything from acupuncture to supplement use. In some cases, alternative treatments are unproven or even dangerous, so it is important to identify the treatments that are safe and those which pose a potential treat. Always consult a physician before including alternative treatments into your diabetes management routine.
To illustrate this point, it is important to recall the Ephedrine (aka ma huang) ban in early 2003. It was the first herbal stimulant ever banned by the FDA. A popular component of anti-obesity medications, ephedrine was found to cause more harm than good, with side effects including insomnia, high blood pressure, glaucoma, urinary retention, and stroke. For this reason it is strongly recommended that you always consult a doctor before introducing alternative therapies into your health regimen.
Supplements. Perhaps the area in which you should take the most care is in the arena of supplements. There are many snake oil salesmen out there, happy to exploit your desire for better health. Here is a quick reference list of the supplements that are most frequently associated with diabetes management.
- Magnesium has been a subject of interest in medical circles for its potential for improving glucose levels, as a lack of magnesium has been correlated with abnormalities in insulin secretion.
- There have been several studies that support the use of chromium use for diabetes control, though there are no formal medical recommendations for its use in diabetes management.
- A few studies have suggested that vanadium, a plant derivative, can increase a person's sensitivity to insulin.
- Some other supplements believed by some to manage diabetes include garlic, ginger, ginseng, hawthorn, and nettle. ALWAYS talk to your doctor before you introduce significant increases of these items into your diet.
Weight Management.Weight and diabetes are often linked, so weight management is frequently a corner-stone of diabetes treatment. Many diabetics turn to alternative therapies to help with weight loss. Some possible (though unproven and potentially dangerous) weight loss supplements include chitosan, momordica charanta, sauropus androgynus, aristolochic acid, camsogia garcinia (hydroxycitric acid), pyruvate, germander, momordica charanta, chromium, pyruvate, germander, and momordica charanta. ALWAYS discuss weight management with your personal physician prior to introducing any of these into your diet.
Plant and Natural Foods. Brewer's yeast, buckwheat, broccoli and other related greens, okra, peas, fenugreek seeds, and sage are all examples of plant foods believed by some to help with diabetes management. The vast majority of plant foods are high in fiber which is certainly helpful in controlling both glucose levels and appetite. Likewise, a recent report in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that individuals who drank 3 to 4 cups of coffee (decaf or regular) had a 25 percent lower risk for diabetes than those who did not. Further studies are required, but there may be a link between the coffee bean and diabetes prevention.
Alternative Physical Therapies. Exercise is truly the only FDA-approved physical therapy, and even with exercise, it is important to consult a physician before implementing drastic changes to your exercise regimen. In addition to exercise, some alternative treatments include meditation, acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy, massage, and even hypnosis. Again, discuss these practices with your doctor before including them as they can be expensive and are not proven diabetes management tools.
Note: This information is not intended to supplement or replace advice from a medical professional, or to diagnose or treat any condition.
About the Author:MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale medical supplier specializing in diabetic footwear, including socks for diabetics and custom made orthotics.