From supplements to guided meditation, your diabetes treatment could include traditional medicines, alternative therapies, and natural remedies, too.
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.
Although some may be effective, others aren’t or can even be harmful. If you want to try complementary or alternative medicine, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons and what may be a good idea for you.
Acupuncture is a procedure where a practitioner inserts very thin needles into specific points on your 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 and is sometimes used by people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage that can happen with diabetes.
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Biofeedback is a technique that helps you become more aware of – and learn to deal with – your body’s response to pain. This therapy emphasizes relaxation and stress-reduction techniques.
Guided imagery is a relaxation technique that some professionals who use biofeedback also practice. With guided imagery, you’ll think of peaceful mental images, such as ocean waves, or perhaps images of controlling or curing your disease. People using this technique say these positive images can ease their condition.
The benefit of taking chromiumhas been studied and debated for several years. You need the mineral to make glucose tolerance factor, which helps insulin work better. Several studies suggest that chromium supplements may improve diabetes control, but we don’t have enough information to recommend it to treat diabetes yet.
Several types of plants are referred to as ginseng, but most studies have used American ginseng. They’ve shown some sugar-lowering effects in fasting and after-meal blood sugar levels, as well as in A1c results (average blood sugar levels over a 3-month period). But we need larger and more long-term studies. Researchers also found that the amount of sugar-lowering compound in ginseng plants varies widely