If I could only prescribe one supplement for a diabetes patient, I would prescribe R-alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid has numerous benefits to the diabetic patient. It is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant and has been shown to protect patients with fatty liver from liver disease progression. It can help reduce insulin resistance and has been shown to protect people with diabetes from developing complications in their nerves, eyes, and kidneys. R-ALA can prevent glycosylation of proteins, which reduces the A1C level. It is safe, although very rarely it can cause stomach upset. Alpha-lipoic acid is listed either as ALA or R-ALA. When listed as ALA, this means it contains two forms—the S isomer form and the R isomer form, in a 50:50 ratio. The key is to find a product that says it contains “R-ALA” instead of just “ALA.” A good daily working dose of R-ALA is 300 to 1,200 mg a day, which is the equivalent of 600 to 2,400 mg a day of regular ALA, if you buy a regular ALA listed product.
Some of the above drugs are available in compound form, and there are many patients taking three to four of them to control their blood sugar. But again, "the most common duo is metformin and a sulfonylurea,” says Arti Bhan, MD, division head of endocrinology at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “Metformin makes the body utilize insulin more effectively, and the sulfonylurea works on the pancreas to make more insulin in response to food consumption. Another common combination is metformin and insulin.”
One benefit of these foods is that they generally promote weight loss, which is a major factor in reversing diabetes. A study following 306 diabetic individuals found that losing weight under a structured program (with the supervision of a primary care physician) resulted in almost half of the participants going into total diabetes remission. This means they were able to stay off their medications permanently (assuming they stayed on a healthy diet). Quality of life also improved by over seven points on average for the patients on the dietary regimen, while it decreased by about three points for the control group. (13)
If you are interested in trying a natural treatment in addition to standard treatment, be sure do so only under the close supervision of your physician. If diabetes is not properly controlled, the consequences can be life-threatening. Also, inform your physician about any herbs, supplements, or natural treatments you are using, because some may interact with the medications you are taking and result in hypoglycemia unless properly coordinated.
Because of poor peripheral circulation and slowed healing of skin infections and ulcerations, needling of the lower extremities in diabetic patients should be performed with extreme caution and sterile technique. In general, however, acupuncture appears to be a relatively safe form of treatment. An extensive worldwide literature search identified only 193 adverse events (including relatively minor events, such as bruising and dizziness) over a 15-year period. There have been approximately 86 reported cases of hepatitis B and 1 case of HIV transmission. In all of these cases, nondisposable needles were used.6
Other drugs are on the horizon as well, as scientists work to improve the variety of medications to treat type 2 diabetes. Frequently physicians will prescribe one type of oral medication and discover it isn't really helping to control blood glucose that much. In the past, this would have meant that the patient would likely be put on insulin. Now, physicians can try another type of medication to see if it helps correct problems. Physicians often notice that a particular medication works well for a period of time and then begins to work less well for a patient. Now they can mix and match medications that work on different aspects of the diabetes problem to see if that will improve blood glucose control.
Magnesium deficiency is not uncommon in people with diabetes, and it can worsen high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Some studies suggest that supplementing with magnesium may improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels, but other studies have shown no benefit. Have your doctor check you for deficiency before supplementing with magnesium. These are signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium.
If you google “diabetes cure” you are directed to websites like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic where you find information on diet, exercise, medication, and insulin therapy, but nothing about the cure. This lack of information may have to do with the fact that Americans spend $322 billion a year to treat diabetes, $60 billion a year on weight-loss programs, and $124 billion a year on snack foods. This is about 3% of the US economy! Because so many peoples’ livelihoods are supported by diabetes and its main cause, obesity, the viral effect of people getting cured and telling others is greatly diminished.