Diabetes :: Alternative Therapies for Diabetes
People with diabetes are 1.6 times more likely to seek out complementary and alternative medicine than those in the general population. That’s the conclusion of a recent study from the Medical University of South Carolina based on information from a nationally representative sample of the US population.
In the general population, estimates of alternative medicine use were not significantly different across selected chronic medical conditions other than diabetes. Among people with diabetes, those who are over age 65 and have more than a high school education are more likely to use alternative medicine.
The American Diabetes Association acknowledges that there are alternative therapies that many patients find helpful. The Association urges people with diabetes to carefully examine claims made by practitioners who are not in the healthcare mainstream and to let their primary healthcare provider know if they are following other regimens.
People with chronic conditions often try alternative therapies, treatments that are considered to be outside the mainstream of medical practice. A study of diabetes educators in the western states found that nearly two-thirds recommend alternative therapies for their patients with diabetes. In addition to activity, diet, and self-help groups, those most often recommended were laughter and humor, relaxation therapy, prayer, imagery and visualization, meditation, massage, and music therapy. Megavitamin therapy was also recommended.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has published the following positions about alternative therapies used by diabetic patients:
* Acupuncture has been shown to offer relief from chronic pain and is sometimes used by people suffering from diabetic nerve damage.
* Biofeedback emphasizes relaxation and stress-reduction techniques to help people learn to deal with the body’s response to pain.
* Guided imagery is a relaxation technique in which a person thinks of peaceful images or images that foster a sense of control over diabetes.
Herbs and Minerals
Herbal and mineral products that are sometimes recommended:
* Chromium has been reported to improve diabetes control by enhancing production of glucose tolerance factor, which helps improve the activity of insulin.
* Magnesium is often recommended, since a deficiency of this mineral may hamper blood glucose control. Scientists believe that a magnesium deficiency interrupts insulin secretion in the pancreas and increases insulin resistance. Vanadium, which is found in plants and animals, has been shown to normalize blood glucose levels in animals with diabetes. In a human study, people who took vanadium developed a modest increase in insulin sensitivity and were able to decrease their insulin requirements.
Several types of plants are referred to as ginseng but most studies of ginseng and diabetes have used American ginseng. Those studies have shown some glucose-lowering effects in fasting and post-prandial (after meal) blood glucose levels as well as in A1C levels (average blood glucose levels over a 3-month period).
Many studies involving garlic have shown improved diabetes control in animals. S-allylcysteine sulfoxide, an active ingredient of garlic, was administered to alloxan-diabetic rats for a month, and their conditions improved compared with rats treated with glyburide and insulin. In another study, treatment of alloxan-diabetic rats with antioxidant S-allylcysteine sulfoxide isolated from garlic improved the diabetic condition to the same extent as glyburide and insulin.
Niacin and Niacinamide
As a component of GTF, niacin (nicotinic acid) plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. Many refined foods consumed by Americans are depleted of niacin. Grains and other foods that are “enriched” usually contain added niacinamide, which is capable of performing most of the functions of Vitamin B3, but which cannot apparently be converted by the human body into niacin. In addition, most vitamin supplements contain niacinamide rather than niacin.
The B-vitamin biotin plays a role in the intracellular metabolism of glucose. Biotin deficiency resulted in impaired glucose tolerance in rats.In another study, administration of biotin (2-4 mg/kg of body weight/day) to genetically diabetic mice improved glucose tolerance and lowered insulin resistance.
Serum vitamin B6 levels were below normal in 25% of a series of 518 mostly adult diabetics and in 24% of 63 childhood diabetics. Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) supplementation of diabetic patients improved glucose tolerance in some studies, but was without effect in others.
Several decades ago, Wilfrid Shute, M.D., a pioneer in vitamin E therapy, reported that vitamin E supplementation reduced blood sugar levels in some diabetics. This observation was confirmed in one study, but others failed to find a beneficial effect of vitamin E. More recently, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, administration of 900 mg/day of vitamin E for four months to non-insulin-independent diabetics significantly improved glucose tolerance..
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
The importance of vitamin C for blood sugar regulation has been demonstrated in both humans and animals. Guinea pigs fed a vitamin C-deficient diet developed diabetic glucose tolerance curves, glycosuria, and decreased pancreatic insulin content. Diabetic blood sugar curves were also seen in patients with vitamin C deficiency; these values returned to normal after supplementation with vitamin C.
Injections of vitamin B12 have been used to treat retinopathy in patients with type I diabetes. In one study, 15 patients added 100 mcg of vitamin B12 to their daily insulin injection. After one year, all signs of retinopathy had disappeared in seven cases. Similar results were reported by others.Vitamin B12 has also been used to treat diabetic neuropathy.
Copper deficiency in experimental animals resulted in impaired glucose tolerance and increased concentrations of glycosylated hemoglobin (indicative of chronic hyperglycemia).
Plasma zinc concentrations were reduced and urinary zinc excretion was elevated in diabetic patients. Zinc plays a role in the synthesis of insulin by pancreatic beta cells and in the action of insulin at the cellular level.
Selenium-deficient rats had decreased insulin secretory reserve. When combined with vitamin E deficiency, selenium deficiency resulted in glucose intolerance.
When animals were fed a thiamine-deficient diet, there was a significant increase in blood sugar. Blood thiamine concentrations were significantly lower in insulin-dependent diabetics than in healthy controls, but the levels in non-insulin-dependent diabetics were normal.
Herbal Treatment of Diabetes
Herbal medicine has been used for many years by different cultures around the world, both for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. It has only been recently that some of these herbal treatments have been studied scientifically.
Trigonella foenum graecum (Fenugreek)
Fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenumgraecum) is an annual plant of the leguminous family. Fenugreek seeds are commonly used as a condiment in India. Yemenite Jews have traditionally used fenugreek to treat type II diabetes. In one study, 10 insulin-dependent diabetics consumed isocaloric diets with or without 100 g/day of debittered, defatted fenugreek-seed powder, each for 10 days in random order.
The dried sap of the aloe plant is used as a traditional remedy for diabetes in the Arabian peninsula. Administration of one-half teaspoon daily for 4-14 weeks to five patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes resulted in a mean reduction in serum glucose from 273 to 151 mg/dl (p<0.05).
Momordica charantia (Bitter Gourd)
Administration of an extract of momordica to mice with alloxan-induced diabetes significantly lowered blood sugar and delayed the onset of retinopathy, nephropathy and cataract. Administration of 230 g/day of momordica for 8-11 weeks to a group of nine diabetic patients, significantly improved the results of oral glucose tolerance tests.
Panax Ginseng (Korean ginseng)
Panax Ginseng, commonly known as Korean ginseng, has a long history of use in Asian countries as a tonic. It is used in China to treat diabetes. At least five constituents of this herb have been shown to exert hypoglycemic effects.
Homeopathic Treatment of Diabetes
Success in the homeopathic treatment of any disease depends on following the principles laid down in the philosophy of Hahnemann and expounded by the wisest of his followers as they interpreted these principles in terms which present day prescribers can understand.
These principles are clear, practicable and satisfying. Man is a triune being, spiritual, mental, physical. All diseases, or disorders, partake of these three realms. Therefore, we treat the man, not his organs by themselves. We strive to learn the patient’s reactions to the disorder present, reactions in the spiritual, mental and physical spheres. We become acquainted with him and try to separate the abnormal or morbid in his case from that which is normal.
It means suiting a remedy to the patient, not to one of his parts, whether this remedy is well known for the disease in question or not. It means preparing the remedy to act on the plane of this particular patient’s disorder. It means watching the results of a prescription and judging therefrom whether or not a curative process is developing. It means choosing a better remedy or following along with the one first chosen and its complementary remedies.
The diabetic patient is treated just as every other patient is treated. Like every other case, much depends on how far tissue change has taken place at the beginning of treatment, that is whether this has advanced far enough to render the patient incurable. Homeopathy can cure any curable case of diabetes and it has done wonderful things with diabetics who have been considered incurable by other methods. A so-called incurable may have to return for further treatment at intervals if sugar returns after freedom and good health. Advanced cases may never cease treatment altogether but may live as long as other people and die of something else. Or such a patient may be palliated wonderfully on the way to death.
In diabetics we are dealing with borderline cases,with what is called an ultimate in organic disorder. Homeopathy, used for chronic ills from early life, very rarely develops an ultimate. Its power in prevention is marvelous. But, mind you, I am talking about principles and their practice, not about the weaknesses of human nature and human endeavor in physicians as well as in patients.
Of one thing I am sure. A patient accustomed to insulin in large doses over a long period is enabled to reduce that dosage soon after beginning treatment and may cut it down one-half or three-quarters or cut it out altogether. The pancreas, if not too far gone, comes back wonderfully toward normal functioning.
When a diabetic comes to a homeopath, while he is on regular allopathic treatment, the first question he asks – Should I stop the allopathic medication to take homeopathic treatment?
And our reply is: Continue your allopathic treatment as it is and start constitutional homeopathic treatment along with. In due course of time, as the things improve and blood sugar levels start showing normalcy, allopathic medication can be reduced gradually till it is no longer required.