Choosing natural remedies that are right for you

Use these approaches when exploring natural remedies to stay safe and avoid wasting money.

A participant in a recent Dining with Diabetes workshop asked if cinnamon was good for diabetes. She had started using cinnamon after hearing about it on TV and getting her doctor’s okay. While there have been a few studies that show blood sugar level improvements in diabetics who take a cinnamon supplement, other studies show no improvement. Ginseng, fenugreek, and omega-3 supplements are examples of other natural remedies that have also been promoted as a “natural cure” for diabetes.

So how are we supposed to know which alternative treatment is safe and effective? The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health shares the following approaches that you can use to determine whether or not an alternative treatment is safe for you.

  • The belief in a treatment and how you use it affects how our bodies respond to a treatment. Everyone responds to treatments differently, what works for one person might not work for you. So pay attention to your body’s overall health for guidance.
  • Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean that it is safe. All berries growing in the wild are natural, but not all are safe to eat.
  • Before commencing a treatment, learn the facts about the treatment’s safety. When evaluating the safety of a supplement, review the ingredients list and its manufacturing process.
  • A “natural remedy” or dietary supplement might cause negative side effects if taken with your current medications. See the NCCIH fact sheet Using Dietary Supplements Wisely to help avoid complications.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor about any new medications or supplements you are taking. This helps to keep you safe and get the care you need. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, see NCCIH’s Time to Talk campaign.

There is no cure for diabetes, so it is important to keep taking your current medication and talk to your doctor before you start an alternative therapy. Michigan State University Extension offers diabetes workshops throughout Michigan that can help you manage your diabetes. Find your county on the drop down list under Events. You can also find an expert in your area by visiting people.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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