In recent years, there has been an upsurge of interest within the diabetes community in dietary supplements and other alternative therapies. This development has most certainly been aided by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, in which Congress provided a new regulatory framework under which the industry thrived and expanded greatly. Dietary supplements are now a more than $23 billion industry in the United States.
But unlike prescription and over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements are not approved ahead of time by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and efficacy, and only rarely are they evaluated by the agency at all. This puts a clear burden on the potential consumer, one that may lead to doubts and confusion about whether supplements or other alternative remedies (which are also not routinely evaluated by any agency) should be used at all. This list of resources serves as a guide to information about specific alternative and complementary therapies, as well to the decision on whether — and how much — to trust and explore alternatives to conventional medicine.
THE AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION GUIDE TO HERBS AND NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
Laura Shane-McWhorter, PharmD, BCPS, FASCP, BC-ADM, CDE
American Diabetes Association
Alexandria, Virginia, 2009
This book is designed to show how herbal and other dietary supplements fit into overall diabetes care. It describes the purpose of each supplement, how effective it is, and how it may amplify or interfere with the effects of prescription drugs. The author is a pharmacist and diabetes educator who previously wrote a doctor’s guide to alternative therapies.
An interview in which the author discusses the use of supplements in the treatment of diabetes can be found at the following Web addresses: Part 1 at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhnM62kwR6c and Part 2 at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHw4Nawd_ak.
DIABETES SELF-MANAGEMENT’S HIDDEN SECRETS OF NATURAL HEALING
Diana W. Guthrie, PhD, ARNP, FAAN, CDE, BC-ADM, AHN-BC, CHTP
Diabetes Self-Management Books
New York, 2007
This book reviews dietary supplements as well as a variety of other complementary, alternative, and non-Western treatments, and explains how they can be used to help manage diabetes. It reviews a wide range of the available therapies and describes in everyday language how each — with input from a conventional health-care provider — can become part of a diabetes treatment plan. It can be ordered by calling (800) 664-9269.
MAYO CLINIC BOOK OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Time Inc. Home Entertainment
New York, 2007
This book, written by a variety of authors associated with the famed clinic, aims to describe which alternative remedies should be used, when they should be used, and which remedies should be avoided. It addresses when alternatives to conventional medicine can be considered as treatment, and when they should take on a minor role or be avoided altogether. The potential of alternative remedies to be used alongside, rather than only in place of, traditional medicine is emphasized throughout the book.
PRESCRIPTION FOR DRUG ALTERNATIVES
James F. Balch, MD, Mark Stengler, ND, and Robin Young Balch, ND
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Hoboken, New Jersey, 2008
Unlike the previous title, this book emphasizes the negative aspects of conventional medical treatments and proposes ways to avoid them. It lists, by condition — from acne to diabetes to osteoporosis — commonly prescribed drugs, and then alternative remedies that can supposedly be used in their place. It should be noted that the book does not recommend ending drug therapy or beginning to use a proposed alternative without first consulting one’s doctor.