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From Florida, USA:

My 11 year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two months ago. I recently read some information on the alternative drug (herb) ProBeta. The results of their studies seem to be very encouraging, however I can only find information at the company's webpage. With the results they claim I should think many diabetics would at least try ProBeta. Do you have any information on this product?


I'm afraid that you aren't going to like what I have to say; but here goes! Whilst I have to admit that I am not familiar with Pro Beta I also have to tell you that no alternative remedy has been approved for Type 1A or autoimmune diabetes by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A diagnosis of this form of diabetes at present involves a lifetime commitment to insulin. Sometimes, it is true, insulin needs are reduced or very occasionally can be dispensed with during the short recovery period after diagnosis, often known as the honeymoon period; but long term, the need is inflexible. Hopefully in the future the tedium of compliance will be alleviated by some form of external pancreas.

Having said what I am sure your doctor will confirm, let me also say that I think alternative medicine remedies may still have a role even though they have no direct therapeutic benefit. If you have a chance next time you go to your Public Library you might like to look at the Science Times section of the New York Times of February 9, 1999 which has a very good review of the whole question and especially both its dangers and its appeal. It especially points out the lack of any FDA regulation of contents.

What has happened in the last few years is that studies have shown that meticulous control of blood sugar is crucial to the long term avoidance of the complications of diabetes. And this applies to children as well as to adults. As a result conventional medical care makes enormous demands on families to comply and not surprisingly some feel that they are losing control of their role in the care of the people who matter to them most. One way that some people perceive as restoring some of this control is to resort to herbal remedies. For the most part these are harmless and provided that they are purchased from a reliable source and provided they do not supplant conventional therapy they can have a valuable placebo effect.


[Editor's comment: See also Alternative Medicine -- The Risks of Untested and Unregulated Remedies from the New England Journal of Medicine. JSH]

Original posting 24 Apr 1999
Posted to Alternative Therapies and Explanations


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