Alternative medicines need to be considered in diabetes management

July 4, 2007

People with diabetes are risking their health by not discussing their use of complementary and alternative therapies with the health professionals managing their conventional treatment.

A review of the international health literature has shown nutritional supplements and herbal medicines are the most commonly used complementary and alternative therapies in diabetes.

Annie Chang, a PhD candidate in Griffith’s School of Nursing, said while some products may have benefits for patients, they can also have side effects in their own right or interact with conventional medications.

“Fenugreek for example, used as a supplement, may affect blood sugar levels but patients are already on other blood sugar lowering medications as well.”

While the prevalence of use varies widely between different countries (17-72%), her review suggests nearly half of people living with diabetes supplement their conventional medicines with some form of alternative therapy.

Women, over 65-year-olds, those who had been living with diabetes for longer, and people interested in self management of their condition were the most likely to use alternative therapies.

“People will tell their alternative practitioners that they are using Western medicines but the vast majority will not discuss their alternative therapies with a doctor or other healthcare professional,” she said.

Ms Chang, who has also surveyed more than 300 diabetics in Taiwan, said people feared their doctor would not be interested in discussing alternative medicines or that they might ‘get into trouble’ for taking them.

“The evidence is that patients are using these products and may even reduce their conventional medicine doses and modify the timing of doses so they aren’t taking both together.”

“While it might be impossible for Western medicine to learn all about complementary and alternative therapies, healthcare professionals do need to be included in discussions about them so we can document their use and be aware of any potential problems for our patients.”

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: EU funds design study for European plasma accelerator

Related Stories

EU funds design study for European plasma accelerator

November 2, 2015

The European Union supports the development of a novel plasma particle accelerator with three million euros from the Horizon2020 program. The EU project EuPRAXIA (European Plasma Research Accelerator with eXcellence In Applications) ...

How orange peel could replace crude oil in plastics

September 16, 2015

Orange juice, both delicious and nutritious, is enjoyed by millions of people across the world every day. However, new research indicates that it could have potential far beyond the breakfast table. The chemicals in orange ...

Wavelets improve medical imaging

September 11, 2015

An approach to converting the data from MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines, mammograms and other medical equipment gives doctors a much clearer picture of your insides and a chance to detect disease and other problems ...

Laser ablation boosts terahertz emission

September 17, 2015

From almost instantaneous wireless transfer of huge amounts of data and easy detection of explosives, weapons, or harmful gases, to safe 3-D medical imaging and new advances in spectroscopy —technologies based on terahertz ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.