Islets of Hope alternative and complementary treatment for persons with diabetes

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Article disclaimer

Compiled and edited by Lahle Wolfe, Founder, Islets of Hope.


NIH Publication No. 04–4552, May 2004

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Courtesy of University of Maryland Medical Center

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Life Extension Magazine, December 2005.   Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee used diet, supplements, and exercise to lose 100 pounds and eradicate life-threatening diabetes without drugs. Having made Healthy Arkansas a model for state-level preventive health strategies, Gov. Huckabee is taking on his biggest challenge yet—Healthy America, a campaign to improve America’s dismal state of health.


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Alternative & Complementary Treatments for Diabetes
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Complementary & Alternative Treatment for Diabetes
Vitamins and Supplements -
Biotin, Chromium, Magnesium

Complementary and Alternative Treatment for Diabetes

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, defines complementary and alternative medicine as a "group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine." Complementary medicine is used with conventional therapy, whereas alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.

Some people with diabetes use complementary or alternative therapies to treat diabetes. Although some of these therapies may be effective, others can be ineffective or even harmful. Patients who use complementary and alternative medicine need to let their health care providers know what they are doing.

Some complementary and alternative medicine therapies are discussed below. For more information, talk with your health care provider.


Vitamins and Supplements
(Also, see Herbs & Natural Remedies)

Biotin (Vitamin H) - Biotin is used to supplement treatment for several disorders common to diabetes, as well as diabetes type 2. You should not take biotin if you are on antibiotics or anticonvulsant medications.

Biotin may be used to treat (courtesy of University of Maryland Medical Center):

  • Diabetes - Persons with type 2 diabetes often have low levels of biotin. Biotin may be involved in the synthesis and release of insulin. Preliminary studies in both animals and people suggest that biotin may help improve blood sugar control in those with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy.  There have been reports of biotin supplements improving the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy for some people who developed this condition from either long-standing diabetes or on-going hemodialysis for kidney failure. Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to the nerves of the extremities, most commonly the feet and calves. It is felt as numbness, tingling, burning or strange sensations, and may be accompanied by pain, muscle weakness, and difficulty walking. People who have taken biotin for these purposes tend to notice improvement as early as 1 to 3 months after starting the supplement.
  • Candida Infections.  Candida infections affect the skin, mouth, and vagina and are caused by a yeast-like fungus. Possible symptoms include white patches in the mouth or on the throat, painful cracks at the corners of the mouth, skin rashes found commonly in the groin, between fingers and toes, and under the breasts, and vaginal itching and irritation with a curd-like discharge. Some believe that people with a biotin deficiency may be more likely to become infected with candida. It is not clear, however, whether increasing biotin in the diet or taking biotin supplements will prevent or treat this condition. There has been one case report of a woman with frequent, recurrent vaginal candida infections who did improve after taking biotin supplements for three months.
  • High Cholesterol.  Animal studies and a few human studies suggest that low levels of biotin are associated with high total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. It is not known, however, if biotin supplementation or increased biotin in the diet improves cholesterol

Chromium - The benefit of added chromium for diabetes has been studied and debated for several years. Several studies report that chromium supplementation may improve diabetes control. Chromium is needed to make glucose tolerance factor, which helps insulin improve its action. Because of insufficient information on the use of chromium to treat diabetes, no recommendations for supplementation yet exist.

Magnesium - Although the relationship between magnesium and diabetes has been studied for decades, it is not yet fully understood. Studies suggest that a deficiency in magnesium may worsen blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes. Scientists believe that a deficiency of magnesium interrupts insulin secretion in the pancreas and increases insulin resistance in the body's tissues. Evidence suggests that a deficiency of magnesium may contribute to certain diabetes complications. A recent analysis showed that people with higher dietary intakes of magnesium (through consumption of whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables) had a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.



To learn more about alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse at 1–888–644–6226 or check their website at You can find NCCAM's information on diabetes by looking under diabetes at

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Uppdated 07/28/2006