A Guide to Integrative Medicine for Diabetes

Although they can’t replace prescribed medications, a number of complementary treatments may help improve type 2 diabetes. Find out which ones are worth trying.

Erica Patino
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  • Fish oil: Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of “good” fat found in fish oil and flaxseed-oil supplements, may help reduce inflammation and insulin resistance in people with diabetes, according to a study in the journal Cell. But fatty acids are blood thinners, so taking too many makes a person more prone to bleeding.  “Not all natural products are safe,” stresses Dr. Hatipoglu.
  • Chromium picolinate: A form of the trace mineral chromium, this nutritional supplement is widely used to help decrease glucose production. A study published in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics found that chromium picolinate supplements helped reduce blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol. However, evidence on the effectiveness of the supplement is still mixed.

Hatipoglu also recommends taking a quality multivitamin to fill in any dietary gaps, like a vitamin D deficiency, which is common in people with diabetes.

Diabetes treatment is individualized, so work with your healthcare professional to find out which complementary therapies will work best with your current treatment plan. 

April 2013