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Question:

My 13 year old son was diagnosed a month ago with Type 1 diabetes. My question is regarding research into alternative therapies. I have seen many questions on this and the general response is that no data is available on the effects of herbs, etc. in treating diabetes. What, if any, studies are being conducted into the use of alternative therapies? Thank you for any information you might have.

Answer:

In Type 1 Diabetes there is, in nearly every case, a complete loss of the ability to produce insulin within a few months of the onset of clinical symptoms. The remedy is to provide exogenous insulin and these days the semisynthetic human insulins are essentially identical with the natural product, the difficulty is to balance the insulin dose, the carbohydrate intake and exercise so as to approximate normal blood sugar levels.

For much of the world, however, the cost of insulin puts it beyond the reach of diabetics, and herbal medicines and diet restriction are the only treatments. In Asia there are Indian (ayurvedic), Japanese (gosha-jinki-gan) and Chinese herbal remedies. Some of the Japanese remedies have been studied for diabetic neuropathy in animals and found to be of some benefit. In the U.S. curanderos in the Hispanic community will offer herbal supplements, but are careful to suggest conventional care as well. The same is true of acupuncture. Because there is no "alternative" treatment approved by the F.D.A., there have been essentially no funds available for research and in parts of the world where there is no money for insulin there is understandably none for research either.

It would be a grave mistake to withhold insulin; but if you are a believer in "holistic" remedies, trying both approaches at the same time may give you support; but you should discuss any plans with your diabetic care team.

DO'B

Original posting 22 Sep 96

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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