Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset
diabetes, but is becoming more common in children. This form of diabetes is
caused when your body either resists insulin or doesn’t produce enough. It
causes your blood glucose levels to be unbalanced.
There is no cure. However, many people are
able to manage their blood glucose levels with diet and exercise. If not, a
doctor can prescribe medications that can manage blood sugar levels. Some of
these medications are:
- insulin therapy
- metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza,
A healthy diet, physical activity, and
maintaining a healthy weight are the first, and sometimes, most important part
of diabetes treatment. However, when those are not enough to maintain your
blood sugar levels, your doctor can decide which medications will work best for
Along with these treatments, people with
diabetes have tried numerous herbs and supplements to improve their diabetes.
These alternative treatments are supposed to help control blood sugar levels,
reduce resistance to insulin, and prevent diabetes-related complications.
Some supplements have shown promise in animal
studies. However, there is currently only limited evidence that they have the
above mentioned benefits in humans.
It is always best to let the foods you eat
provide your vitamins and minerals. However, more and more people are turning
to alternative medicines and supplements. In fact, according to the American
Diabetes Association, diabetics are more likely to
use supplements than those without the disease.
Supplements should not be used to replace
standard diabetes treatment. Doing so can put your health at risk.
It is important to talk to your doctor before
using any supplements. Some of these products can interfere with other
treatments and medications. Just because a product is natural does not mean it
is safe to use.
A number of supplements have shown promise as
diabetes treatments. These include the following.
Chinese medicine has been using cinnamon for
medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. It has been the subject of numerous
studies to determine its effect on blood glucose levels. A 2011
study has shown that cinnamon, in whole form or
extract, helps lower fasting blood glucose levels. More studies are being done,
but cinnamon is showing promise for helping to treat diabetes.
Chromium is an essential trace element. It is
used in the metabolism of carbohydrates. However, research on the use of
chromium for diabetes treatment is mixed. Low doses are safe for most people,
but there is a risk that chromium could make blood sugar go too low. High doses
also have the potential to cause kidney damage.
Vitamin B-1 is also known as thiamine. Many people with diabetes
are thiamine deficient. This may contribute to some diabetes complications. Low
thiamine has been linked to heart disease and blood vessel damage.
Thiamine is water-soluble. It has difficulty
getting into the cells where it’s needed. However, benfotiamine, a supplemental
form of thiamine, is lipid-soluble. It more easily penetrates
cell membranes. Some research suggests that benfotiamine can prevent diabetic
complications. However, other studies have not shown any positive effects.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent
antioxidant. Some studies suggest it may:
- reduce oxidative stress
- lower fasting blood sugar levels
- decrease insulin resistance
However, more research is needed.
Furthermore, ALA needs to be taken with caution, as it has the potential to
lower blood sugar levels to dangerous levels.
Bitter melon is used to treat
diabetes-related conditions in countries like Asia, South America, and others. There
is a lot of data on its effectiveness as a treatment for diabetes in animal and
However, there is limited human data on
bitter melon. There are not enough clinical studies on human. The human studies
currently available are not of high quality.
Green tea contains polyphenols, which are
The main antioxidant in green tea is known as
epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Laboratory studies have suggested that EGCG
may have numerous health benefits including:
- lower cardiovascular disease risk
- prevention of type 2 diabetes
- improved glucose control
- better insulin activity
Studies on diabetic patients have not shown
health benefits. However, green tea is generally considered safe.
Resveratrol is a chemical found in wine and
grapes. In animal models, it helps prevent high blood sugar. Animal studies have also shown that it can reduce oxidative stress. However,
human data is limited. It is too soon to know if supplementation helps with
Magnesium is an essential nutrient. It helps
regulate blood pressure. It also regulates insulin sensitivity. Supplemental
magnesium may improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics.
A high magnesium diet may also reduce the
risk of diabetes. Researchers have found a link between higher magnesium
intake, lower rates of insulin resistance, and diabetes.
As you can see from this list, that there are
a number of natural supplements that can be used to manage diabetes. However,
even for those in this list, it is important that you talk to your doctor
before adding any supplement or vitamin to diabetes plan.
There are a number of popular supplements
that can have negative interactions with diabetes medications and blood sugar.
Zinc is one of these popular supplements that can affect your blood glucose
levels negatively. Even those in this list that can help many with diabetes may
still have a negative interaction with some of your medications.