Diabetes Treatment: Pairing Holistic Medicine With Clinical Medicine

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • Anyone living with type 1 diabetes recognizes they are married to pharmaceutical companies for the rest of their lives. For the past 30 years, my goal has been to use as little medicine as possible. To live up to that expectation, I've made some questionable choices according to conventional medicine docs. To give you a few examples of my choices:

    • Acupuncture
    • Herbs and vitamin regimens
    • Whole foods, vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic
    • Massage
    • Chiropractic
    • Meditation
    • Reiki

    These are just some of the examples, but ones that I have used regularly for well over 25 years. Where I made some changes to the list were items like food. Twenty five years ago, I wanted to explore food as medicine and I decided after reading a couple fanatical books, I would try veganism. After being vegan for three years, I moved to macrobiotics. The end result was that the macrobiotic diet was too restrictive for me and evidence of this proved itself in my blood work, when I tested positive for anemia. The holistic camp made the claim that I needed to add more deep leafy greens, add more seaweed and take iron supplements. Iron vitamins gave me heartburn and deep leafy greens and other vegan options were not increasing my iron levels adequately. After months of not feeling well, I added some beef, chicken and fish to my diet and my iron popped back up.

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    Finding the right balance is a continuous process and finding good information on efficacy for concepts outside of mainstream medicine has shown the huge fight between the camps. You cannot breathe your way through diabetes and prayer is not a cure. But breathing and prayer can have a tremendous effect on the emotional state of the patient and that carries equal power for increasing a patient's positive outcome.

    I have had many holistic practitioners come up and tell me they can cure my diabetes, "I've seen it happen!" they say. My favorite was when someone asked "When you were diagnosed, what emotional trauma happened to you around that time?" Or, there is the enlightened bunch that if I had the right energy work and allowed the spirits of the universe to heal me, I would be cured.

    As a massage therapist, I find this negligent and fraught with misinformation. For me it's discouraging because holistic care can be a great catalyst for helping the body survive and thrive when, basically, it shouldn't. In the same vein, conventional docs need to comment on what they know and not condemn something until they have researched the complimentary medicine. The most successful results for patients are when everyone works together!

    But the question is how to navigate the rough waters of doctors and practitioners. For me, I look for good common sense. This is the relationship I have with my health care team. There will always be some hesitation and difference of opinion, but none of my team squashes the other side. Most importantly, I do my homework on non-traditional medicine studies of diabetes with solid authorities, such as NIH's CCAM research studies and Europe's EFCAM. They have some fabulous studies on supplements and complimentary medicine to read through.

  • With diabetes, health care is not a choice; it is a necessity. Pharmaceutical medicine is a plus, not a minus. Doctors are not dictators; they are valued advisors. And holistic practitioners are partners in the process of thinking outside the box.

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Published On: April 23, 2012