Is there an alternative treatment for diabetes?

Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas, MD

There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that homeopathic, natural remedies may be help treat diabetes. But are they really effective? In this WisePatient video, endocrinologist Athena Philis-Tsimikas, MD, of Scripps Health, discusses the evidence.

Some people use dietary supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E in the hopes of stabilizing their blood glucose. Still others seek ayurvedic interventions, which include herbal therapy and yoga. There are also people who claim that cinnamon can lower blood sugar, most studies indicate that this is not an effective remedy.

Although some of these treatments may help symptoms related to diabetes, others might be harmful. Speak to your doctor before attempting any complementary or alternative treatments for your diabetes. The best treatments for diabetes are conventional: diet, exercise, blood glucose monitoring, and, in some cases, medication such as insulin.

Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine Specialist

Gymnema sylvestre certainly could serve as the backbone of a natural diabetes program. It has been used in India for the treatment of diabetes for more than 2,000 years. Used primarily for type 2 diabetes, its benefits extend to type l and it continues to be recommended today in India. The leaves help raise insulin levels. Gurmar, an extract of gymnema, tends to be a blood sugar balancer, lowering glucose significantly only in hyperglycemic people. It also significantly improves cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

William Lee Dubois

There are lots of alternatives when it comes to treating diabetes:

  • Diet and exercise. This is a time proven way to treat the most common form of diabetes, type 2. If you lose weight and eat smart, you can make amazing changes in your health, blood sugar wise. If you lean toward alternative treatments are a pharma-phobic, you might prefer to tackle your diabetes in this way.
  • Medication. We’ve got pills that keep your liver from releasing too much sugar when you sleep, we’ve got pills that make your pancreas produce more insulin, we’ve got pills that lower your insulin resistance, and we have exotic new pills that control counter-regulatory hormones that if out of whack, make you hungry all the time.
  • Shots. There's insulin, of course, but there’s also a whole new type of injectable medication that goes right to the heart of the digestive process that is darn close to a miracle drug for many people.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.