Do any traditional or nonprescription remedies for diabetes really help control blood sugar? If so, which ones do you recommend?
There are a number of nonprescription remedies that are known to be effective at lowering blood sugar. In fact, one of the most frequently used and established treatments for diabetes, metformin, was derived from the traditional knowledge that the leaves of the French lilac plant reversed the symptoms of diabetes in some patients. This fact had been known to Europeans for more than 200 years before its eventual isolation and chemical modifi- cation to the medication that we now use. Other non- prescription remedies that have been found to be effective to varying degrees include cinnamon (it appears that the cinnamon stick itself must be used rather than powdered cinnamon alone), the herb gymnema sylvestre (gurmarbooti, gurmar), raw walnuts, bitter melon, and some compounds of the metals chromium and zinc. The beneficial effects of these are generally mild and can be more effective in some people with diabetes than in others, as is also the case for prescription medications. There is generally little down side to trying some of these supplements, as long as the glucose level is carefully monitored and conventional medications are also taken if they are needed. Since these remedies are not labeled or approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this use, there is no specific standardization for their formulation, which can therefore vary widely between manufacturers. Sometimes, exaggerated claims may be made for their effectiveness while at the same time a disclaimer is offered acknowledging that such com- pounds are not intended to diagnose or treat any disease!