Are Natural Remedies Helpful For Diabetics?

by Mandy Vemulapalli

Posted on Wednesday 28th of January 2009

Natural remedies are also called herbal medicine or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Herbal medicine has been used around the world for as long as people have been in existence. In fact, it is only during the 20th century that synthetic organic chemistry became popular and replaced natural remedies as a mainstream means of treatment. The popular tide may be shifting back to more natural treatments, however.

A 2001 Position Statement issued by the American Diabetes Association encouraged health care providers to talk about CAMs with their patients and acknowledge when new treatments were effective in treating Diabetes. The book entitled “Natural Remedies: Their Origins and Uses” by Finn Sandberg and Desmond Corrigan states that a growing percentage of Americans use natural remedies, like nutritional supplements, to enhance their wellness.

The term Diabetes actually refers to four different diseases. Type 1, or Juvenile Diabetes, is an auto-immune disease that is thought to be genetically inherited. In Type 1 Diabetes, the immune system essentially attacks the pancreas and inhibits the body’s ability to produce insulin. Patients with Type 2 Diabetes still produce insulin, but their bodies have much less sensitivity to that insulin. It is thought that Type 2 Diabetes is related to lifestyle rather than genetics. Though these two types have different causes and manifestations, the main symptom of high blood sugar levels and the related complications are the same.

The other two types of Diabetes are Gestational Diabetes and a relatively new condition called Type 1.5. Gestational Diabetes is a temporary insulin resistance that develops in pregnant women during the second trimester. Once women with Gestational Diabetes give birth, the Diabetes goes away, though the women are at greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life. Type 1.5 Diabetes is a mix between Types 1 and 2, where the body produces less insulin and grows increasingly less sensitive to the insulin it does produce.

For Diabetics in particular, natural remedies can be used to do more than just control blood sugar levels. Insulin and oral blood sugar medications do nothing to manage the complications that arise due to Diabetes. On the contrary, many prescribed oral medications actually list cardiovascular complications as a possible side effect. This is most troubling when, according to the ADA, 2 out of 3 diabetics die from cardiovascular disease or strokes. Since there are currently no prescription medicines for diabetics that treat the vascular and/or immune systems, it is important for diabetics to consider using natural remedies as a protection against the serious side effects associated with high blood sugar.

Herbal supplements, multi-vitamins and minerals have been shown to protect against infections, increase cellular regeneration, increase insulin sensitivity and more. A recent study by two universities in North Carolina found that a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement can make a remarkable difference in decreasing the number of infections suffered by patients with type 2 diabetes.

There are many herbal supplements and natural remedies for diabetics, though very few do more than treat high blood sugar levels. People with Diabetes should take herbal supplements and natural remedies that boost immune function, assist with cellular regeneration, fight oxidative stress and repair the vascular system. Diabetes can be very dangerous if not well managed, and good management means more than just controlling high blood sugar levels.

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