Naturopathic Remedies

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Many people with diabetes are interested in naturopathic treatments to help manage their condition. Such treatments can range from dietary supplements to traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Even people with a strong interest in naturopathic medicine, however, may have doubts about its effectiveness or hesitate to ask their doctors about incorporating naturopathic remedies into their self-management routines.

So people investigating these treatments may be interested in a small study released last month. As noted in an ANI (India) article, the study — published in the journal BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine — involved 40 people with Type 2 diabetes who were part of a large Seattle-area health-care network. All continued to receive conventional health care during the study period, but were invited to make up to eight “adjunctive naturopathic care” visits with licensed naturopathic physicians over the course of a year, as well. They actually made an average of 3.9 visits per person, 78% of which occurred during the first six months. Naturopaths recommended a range of treatments, from increasing mindfulness while eating to reducing stress through meditation to adding probiotics to the diet.

The most common recommendation, given to 100% of participants, was to engage in more physical activity.

Over the course of the study, participants were asked to self-report on behaviors and outcomes such as their diet, blood glucose testing habits, physical activity, mood, and motivation to change their lifestyle. In addition, clinical measurements were taken of HbA1c (a measure of long-term blood glucose control), blood lipids, and blood pressure. At both 6 and 12 months into the study, participants reported better self-care habits and motivation than at the beginning of the study. And six months in, their HbA1c levels were an average of 0.90% lower than at the beginning of the study — 0.51% lower than the average drop among 329 patients at the same health-care network who did not participate in the study.

Of course, this study has many limitations — starting with the fact that it was not a randomized controlled trial with a control group for comparison. If a similar study were to be conducted in a randomized fashion, the naturopathic care visits would have to be compared with some other “neutral” treatment. Perhaps this other treatment would be more regular doctor visits, or group support meetings — both of which could conceivably also lead to improved self-care and HbA1c levels.

What do you think — are you interested in exploring naturopathic remedies for your diabetes? Have you had any success with such remedies in the past? Does this study change your view of the field of naturopathic medicine? Should regular medical doctors give more credit or pay more attention to naturopathic medicine? Leave a comment below!

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