Beware of harms caused by alternative medicines to cure diabetes

There is a profusion of material on the Internet on fruits, vegetables and other items that are believed to be good for diabetics. The material on some websites even assert that these items can reduce the blood sugar level.

Diabetologists, however, strike a note of caution, asking people not to end the conventional treatment with drugs or insulin even if the natural food items help in maintaining normal blood sugar level.

Aamla (gooseberry), jamun (blueberry) and fenugreek rank high among the items aggressively promoted. “But, these do not offer a cure from diabetes,” points out diabetologist V. Rajendran.

Marginal effect

“There are nearly 400 herbs, vegetables and fruits that are believed to be effective in reducing the blood sugar level. Many seem to have a marginal effect, but there is no dose standardisation. It is not possible,” he says.

Information provided by persons practising Indian systems of medicine, or by those being treated under these, is impacting the psyche of diabetics. Especially those desperately looking for alternatives to insulin and diabetic drugs. Psychologically, one draws comfort from the fact that jamun, aamla and fenugreek will not be viewed as medicines, but as food items.

But, it comes with the risk of these items being seen as alternatives, says Dr. Rajendran.

“At best, these can only be add-ons because of the fibre content.

Says dietician at Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital G. Kumudhavalli: “Aamla and fenugreek have good fibre content. Diabetics need to consume very small quantities of food every two hours. This makes gooseberry (aamla) one of the ideal food items. One can have two big aamlas a day.

The fibre content will take time for digestion and can help maintain normal blood glucose level.”

“Fibre-rich food is not quickly absorbed and converted into glucose.

Therefore, there will not be any rapid rise in the post-prandial glucose level in the blood. But, this applies to any food that is high in fibre content. And, these should not be seen as an alternative treatment,” explains Dr. Rajendran.

People have to guard against peddling of alternative treatment that can actually inflict harm. “Some patients from Coimbatore went to a State in the northern part of the country to have camel's milk that was promoted as a cure for diabetes.

They experienced nausea and turned sick. The local physician was upset with them for looking for a quick-fix cure.

Some of these people came to me and narrated their unsuccessful trip,” he says.

People with uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension look desperately for non-existent options for cure. Their mindset would have to be tackled first.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 12:14:15 PM |

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