Monday, February 28, 2011

Herbal Supplements - Quack or Fiction?

"Herbal Supplements"
I know, I know, Why the Controversial Topics?

But it is necessary to open this can of worms or bottle of Pills.

Does Cinnamon  lower blood sugar?
Does Ginseng lower blood sugar?  Does Alpha Lipoic Acid reduce Neuropathy & BG?
Does Vitamin E prevent Heart Disease?

These are just a few examples of the claimed benefits and uses of natural products to control diabetes.

I have had people refuse to take a Statin(Cholesterol lowering med) but take 3 teaspoons of Cinnamon, and massive doses of strange herbs I dare to pronounce.  Scary, and perhaps an example of desperation, and or a mistrust in modern medicine.

I encourage you to click the links. Note the difference in studies from the naturals and the Statin. Not to mention it's interesting.

There are many herbal or natural supplements being marketed and endorsed.   But, the medical community seems to remain skeptical, and I rarely hear a physician prescribe any of the above examples. But are these products beneficial and are the studies legit.? I do notice more interest in using Omega 3 capsules, and Vitamin D. But this greatly depends on the medical professional.

Is there a place for natural supplements in main stream medicine? Or, are these products being given way too much attention and hype?  I think, yes there is a place, and yes, they are given too much sensationalized media attention with out proper studies.

The question posed is; are these herbal recommendations based on bad science and quackery or are they worthy of being fiction and fact?

I guess I posted this to stir the pot. As I must admit I get annoyed with the abundance of claims in the media, from Hollywood stars claiming to cure type one diabetes to miracle formula's.

The amount of information is exponential and people who are seeking a way to fix their diabetes will try just about anything. My issue is; are they trying safe things? Are they reading good research, and not quack science, making false claims.  I could go online, read a study claiming that product "A" prevents heart disease, and then I could find another study claiming the exact opposite. It's very confusing and often misleading.

I am grateful that we are looking at natural medicine, I do think there are products that are indeed worthy in the treatment of diabetes. But let's be safe about it.

On a personal note, I believe in Omega 3, Vitamin D, and a few other well researched supplements. But I also believe, that people are out to make a buck.

I think we need to keep things real, like, reduced processed food, more natural foods, shop on the perimeter, exercise, read the ingredients, not just the advertising on the box.  We have to be skeptical of what we choose to treat our diabetes with.

"Or Fact?"
My concluding message is; be cautious, if it's too good to be true, then it's likely Quackery at work, and not Fiction.

Let me know what you think. Do you have a favorite



Michael Hoskins said...

Great post, Trev. I can't say that I have any favorite or preferred herbs out there. I do trust the Vitamin D research and promoters, but can't say I actively use or embrace it. I also have no actual knowledge of others, but get annoyed about the claims of snake oil sales men and women who claim to be able to "cure" or "reverse" diabetes with certain products. My biggest fear, as many others echo, is that people will listen to those claims and suddenly stop using insulin or treatment and put their lives in danger. Or some might stop contributing to the cause because it's "as easy as eating cinnamon" to "cure" diabetes and so not worthy of donating to. Anyhow.. thanks for posting and sharing some thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...

I tend to avoid anything that calls itself "natural" because if it was so effective, disease would be a thing of the past. And although many drugs have been derived from natural sources i.e. salicylate from willow bark and penicillin from the penicillium mold, in most cases, if they were so effective, why didn't the ancients who described diabetes first, use them to cure it?
Natalie ._c-

Valerie said...

I have thought a lot about this one...good topic! I'm currently taking vitamin D because it's a little low (which is not abnormal in Oregon during this time!). I have also taken calcium-magnesium powder supplements and herbal mixes before. This was for other things, not diabetes-related, and while I do think the natural, holistic approach might work for some people, it might not be the best approach for others. I think sometimes it's a combo of approaches,, yes I definitely need insulin, but I also need exercise, enough sleep, etc. But I do agree that there are people who buy into the idea that they need all these supplements and then don't do their research, which is not always beneficial for them.

Anonymous said...

I believe there may very well be herbal supplements which help lower blood sugar (this does NOT mean I would eliminate insulin, but use as an aide). But here's the catch... the supplements are not regulated. So could be dangerous to use. If using St. Johns Wort for depresion, for example, you may get different strenghts. Unless the herbs can be regulated for safety and that each brand you buy has consistent dosage or strength, you can't even really accurately test. I believe in scientific observation. Try it; it it consistently works for lowering BS, you can use it. but is it safe to use? So currently do not use the supplements.

Donna ((Sweet Momma)) said...

I remember when my son was first dx'd I was approached by a friend who puts a lot of stock in organic and natural medicine. She said that if I fed him guava fruit daily I would have better control of his BG. Of course I didnt take the advice seriously. But that was just the first of many such peices of advice that I have recieved over the last 2 + years. When it comes right down to it, I trust in the tried and true.

Trev said...

Thanks for all you comments! It got me thinking, that a lot of modern medicine or medication are derivatives of natural plants and when studied and trialed an appropriate dose can be prescribed. This is not the case with herbal supplements since they are not regulated by the government.

paul said...

There are a lot of herbal supplements out there. You just have to choose what's best for you. Avoid those which are not approved and tested.

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