Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Diabetes

Two landmark surveys have indicated that use of alternative treatments is increasing in the United States. One survey in 1990 found that 33.8% of Americans were using some form of alternative medicine and a later survey by the same individual, Dr. David Eisenberg, found that use had increased to 42.1% in 1997. There is no currently available survey that thoroughly evaluates how many patients with diabetes are using complementary and alternative medicine.

A recent survey of diabetes educators listed the following as the most recommended and used therapies - physical activity, self-help groups, lifestyle diets, laughter and humor, relaxation therapy, prayer, imagery/visualization, meditation, massage, and music therapy. Lesser used therapies taken in oral form included herbal medicine, megavitamin therapy, homeopathy, and ayurveda.

Other surveys of CAM use by diabetes patients include faith healing, macrobiosis (eating a macrobiotic diet), membership in religious sects, clinical ecology (using chromium and nicotinic acid treatment with resultant insulin dose decrease), astrotherapy (tying pieces of coral around the arms), reflexology (massage of foot areas said to represent internal organs), pearl therapy (oyster pearls boiled in milk and then drinking the liquid), herbal treatment, meditation, and homeopathy.

A recent survey in Canada indicated that approximately one third of over 500 persons surveyed used some sort of alternative treatment.

Reasons persons use these treatments have included the major belief that "alternative medicine" works. Other reasons include prevention of illness, "wellness" beliefs, and specific health problems, including back pain, headache, and anxiety/emotional problems, neck pain, musculoskeletal problems, and infections. Another survey found that persons felt there were added benefits from alternative medicine use, lower cost, and perceived fewer side effects.

Go To Reasons for Concern ...

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Pages:
Main | Concerns | Gymnema Sylvestre | Fenugreek | Bitter Melon | Ginseng | Nopal | Aloe, Bilberry, and Milk Thistle | Chromium | Vanadium | CoQ10 | Nicotinamide | Alpha Lipoic Acid | Gamma Linolenic Acid | Ginkgo Biloba | Garlic | Advice | Additional Reading | References

Laura Shane-McWhorter, PharmD, BCPS, FASCP, CDE, BC-ADM
November 24, 2001

For More Information

Assessing Claims

The following web sites are great resources to help you assess claims on behalf of alternative therapies.

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Last Updated: Sun Dec 17 17:35:28 2006
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