Diabetes treatment can include many elements, including traditional medications, alternative medicine, and natural remedies.
Alternative therapies encompass a variety of disciplines that include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Examples of alternative treatments include acupuncture, guided imagery, chiropractic treatments, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation exercises, herbal remedies, massage, and many others.
What kind of exercise is safe -- and fun -- if you have nerve damage from diabetes, called diabetic neuropathy? And how can you stay motivated after that first flush of inspiration fades?
"It depends on where you're starting," says Dace L. Trence, MD, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. "For the person who has been doing nothing, you would certainly want to start doing something that's comfortable and enjoyable and...
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, defines complementary and alternative medicine as a "group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine." Complementary medicine is used with conventional treatments, whereas alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.
Some people with diabetes use complementary or alternative therapies to treat diabetes. Although some of these therapies may be effective, others can be ineffective or even harmful. Patients who use complementary and alternative medicine need to let their health care providers know what they are doing.
What Alternative Treatments Are Used As Diabetes Treatment?
Acupuncture is a procedure in which a practitioner inserts very thin needles into designated points on the skin. Some scientists say that acupuncture triggers the release of the body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture has been shown to offer relief from chronic pain. Acupuncture is sometimes used by people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage of diabetes.
Biofeedback is a technique that helps a person become more aware of and learn to deal with the body's response to pain. This alternative therapy emphasizes relaxation and stress-reduction techniques.
Guided imagery is a relaxation technique that some professionals who use biofeedback also practice. With guided imagery, a person thinks of peaceful mental images, such as ocean waves. A person may also include the images of controlling or curing a chronic disease, such as diabetes. People using this technique say these positive images can ease their condition.
What Natural Dietary Supplements Are Used for Diabetes Treatment?
The benefit of added chromium for diabetes has been studied and debated for several years. Several studies report that chromium supplements may improve diabetes control. Chromium is needed to make glucose tolerance factor, which helps insulin improve its action. Because of insufficient information on the use of chromium to treat diabetes, no recommendations for supplementation exist.
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 sugar-lowering effects in fasting and after-meal blood sugar levels as well as in A1c levels (average blood sugar levels over a three-month period). However, larger and more long-term studies are needed before general recommendations for use of ginseng can be made. Researchers also have determined that the amount of sugar-lowering compound in ginseng plants varies widely.
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