Complementary Care Can Help You Manage Diabetes
David Mendosa | Nov 22, 2016
Many people who have diabetes use complementary care providers. But unlike conventional Western medicine, which is largely based on evidence, much complementary medicine lacks a solid research basis. Whether you will benefit from complementary medicine can depend on which complementary medicine you use.
This type of complementary care is the one that more Americans use than any other. It happens to be the most controversial type. About 18 percent of American adults use dietary supplements, not counting vitamins and minerals. But rigorous studies of supplements have been inconsistent in showing benefits.
Drugs in disguise
Supplements are drugs in disguise because unlike prescription medicine, supplements are not tested to see if they are safe or can help, and they generally aren’t standardized.
Fish oil is a common supplement. About eight percent of American adults take it for its vaunted benefits in avoiding heart disease, the biggest complication of diabetes. Salmon has the most omega-3 oils that help our hearts. But most “clinical trials involving fish oil have found no evidence that it lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.”
Research shows that chiropractic manipulation is a safe and effective treatment for acute low back pain, neck pain, and headaches. But many chiropractors also recommend that people with diabetes use unproven diets and other treatments outside of their areas of expertise.
As of 2012, eight percent of Americans were meditating. Meditation came to the West as a spiritual practice, but growing numbers of us meditate to reduce stress. Several good studies have shown that it can help to reduce the stress of people who have diabetes, and one preliminary study indicates that it can lower A1C.
Other complementary practices
Americans are turning to a number of other complementary practices. Deep breathing exercises and massage therapy are commonly used, but the list also includes progressive relaxation, guided relaxation, Ayurveda, and more. They can help you feel better, but whether they have other benefits is questionable.