Are There Natural Diabetes Treatments?
Many people wonder if there are natural diabetes treatments because they dislike the notion of taking prescription drugs for diabetes. A variety of natural diabetes treatments exist; however, they may not be right for you. Let’s explore what natural treatments exist and whether they’re safe and effective.
What Do Natural Diabetes Treatments Help?
Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to numerous health problems throughout the body. Because there is a problem with insulin, a hormone needed to transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into the cells, glucose remains in the bloodstream and builds to dangerous levels, a condition called hyperglycemia.
In type 1 diabetes, the body can’t produce insulin. Insulin medication must be taken, or the person won’t survive. There are no natural diabetes treatments for type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes treatment without medication happens quite often and has nothing to do with natural treatments. The first line of defense in type 2 diabetes is lifestyle changes. Healthy eating, exercise, and weight management are the most important factors in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
When people talk about natural treatments for diabetes, they typically mean specific types of treatment that help diabetes without medication.
Types of Natural Treatments for Diabetes
People often turn to one of three main natural treatment approaches for diabetes:
- Herbal remedies
Diabetes treatment with herbs involves ingesting herbs as supplements (pills, powders, or liquids), in teas, or in cooking. Herbs are believed to help treat diabetes by helping the body be healthier. Different herbs do different things, but in general, they are believed to balance blood sugar, provide kidney support, improve insulin secretion, carry glucose into the cells of the body, and otherwise help the things that go wrong in diabetes.
Different herbs are used in diabetes treatment:
- Aloe vera
- Bitter melon
- Coccinia Indica
- Curcumin (Tumeric)
- Goat’s Rue
- Holy Basil
- Milk Thistle
Ayurveda is a natural, mind-body health system that comes from the Hindu tradition in India. Ayurveda purports that because the mind and body are one, the mind can be used to heal the body. The assumption is that you can heal yourself without the need for medication.
Diabetes treatment by Ayurveda’s teachings involves natural approaches like:
- Intentional eating to aid digestion
- Nutritious, unprocessed diet
- Balancing the three doshas, or mind-body types that make us who we are
Homeopathy treats diabetes with highly diluted natural substances. The solution is ingested to heal what is wrong in the body. The idea behind homeopathy is that “like heals like;” therefore, the substances used are similar to substances in the body contributing to diabetes.
Homeopathic remedies for diabetes include:
- Black plum
- Phosphoric acid
- Uranium nitricum
Do Natural Diabetes Treatments Work? And Are They Safe?
Herbalists stand by their belief that herbs can treat diabetes naturally. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) isn’t so sure. Because herbal supplements aren’t regulated, they can be very dangerous. Labels don’t always accurately represent what is in the bottle. Therefore, they can be potentially dangerous to your health as well as have unpleasant side effects.
Still, many people do like the idea of using herbs to treat diabetes. Research continues, with some studies suggesting that certain herbs may indeed help treat diabetes. However, it’s too early to declare that herbal treatments alone are safe and effective for diabetes.
Unlike herbal remedies, ayurvedic treatment for diabetes might be okay. The few studies that have been conducted have been inconclusive regarding Ayurveda and diabetes. Neither definitive benefits nor harm has been noted. Much of Ayurveda involves lifestyle management, and this fits with traditional treatment for diabetes. It seems that this Hindi healing approach works for treating diabetes, but it should not be used to replace medication prescribed by your doctor.
In contrast to the neutral opinions for Ayurvedic treatments for diabetes, the world seems to shout a resounding, “No!” to homeopathy for diabetes. Organizations in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia officially recommend against the use of homeopathy. A small number of studies, poorly designed, provide little evidence to support the claim that homeopathy helps diabetes. Homeopathy is potentially harmful to people with diabetes and thus is a natural diabetes treatment that people would be wise to avoid.
Natural treatments remain alluring despite questionable evidence that they work and are safe. If you do decide to try natural diabetes treatments, it’s best to include your doctor ("What Are Diabetes Treatment Guidelines?"). Open communication with your treatment team is vital for your health. Your doctor might have natural treatment suggestions for you and can work with you to give you the best diabetes treatment tailored to you.
Last Updated: 09 January 2019
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD