Alternative medicine has a lot to offer to people with diabetes. Many natural remedies can improve the health of diabetics. Massage, hydrotherapy, relaxation techniques, and other forms of alternative medicine are some natural diabetes control methods to help reduce symptoms and complications.
Just as in conventional diabetes treatment, natural treatment for diabetes begins with diet. Many of the foods that are worst for controlling blood sugar contain refined sugars or have been processed to remove fiber, which slows glucose absorption. Foods closer to their natural state are more likely to contain fiber and complex carbohydrates that help keep blood glucose more steady. White flour and refined sugar are especially bad for people with diabetes.
Diabetics have a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Foods high in saturated fat and especially artificial trans fat are known to increase the risk of heart disease. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water as a treatment for disease or injury. One small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that soaking in a hot tub on a regular basis may help reduce blood glucose. The doctor who conducted the study, Philip Hooper, hypothesized that the effect was caused by the hot water improving circulation to the muscles, allowing them to use more blood sugar (Knight 1999). Hydrotherapy can also provide physical support to patients who otherwise would find exercise difficult (DMITG n.d.)
Stress can raise blood sugar levels directly as part of the body’s fight-or-flight response (ADA n.d.). People suffering from stress are also less able to take care of themselves. Techniques to relieve stress are an effective natural treatment for diabetes.
There are many different types of relaxation techniques. These include progressive relaxation (in which a person consciously tenses then relaxes muscle groups), visualization of calming scenes, tai chi and yoga, meditation and prayer, and massage. Some people find conventional activities such as exercise and listening to music to be effective at reducing stress. More information about specific relaxation techniques is available from the Mayo Clinic.
Excercise provides many benefits to diabetic patients. Physical activity uses up blood sugar, and it can help with weight loss, which can improve diabetic symptoms. Exercise improves bone, muscle, and joint strength, improves circulation, and relieves stress. It strengthens the heart, which is important for diabetic people because their increased risk of heart disease. (NDIC, 2008)
A common and serious complication of diabetes is impaired circulation. This problem can even lead to amputation in some cases. Massage is a beneficial natural treatment for diabetes (DMITG n.d.) It improves circulation throughout the body and also helps relieve stress.
- American Diabetes Association (ADA), n.d. “Stress.” https://www.diabetes.org/type-1-diabetes/stress.jsp
- Diabetes Mellitus Information and Treatment Guide (DMITG), n.d. “Natural Methods of Treatment for Diabetes.” https://www.diabetesmellitus-information.com/diabetes_treatment.htm
- Knight, Jonathan, 1999. “Hydrotherapy.” New Scientist 2205. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg16322053.400-hydrotherapy.html
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, 2008. “What I need to know about Physical Activity and Diabetes.” https://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/physical_ez/index.htm