Diabetes is a disease that makes it hard for your body to use or store glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar the body needs for energy. Insulin is a hormone that helps move glucose into the cells. If insulin is unavailable or can’t interact with cells, glucose builds up in your blood.

Regular high blood glucose can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves. This can lead to problems with the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and immune system. Good control of diabetes can help to reduce complications.

Natural Therapies

Natural therapies may help you decrease or manage symptoms. They should be used along with standard medical care not in place of.

Likely Effective

  • Topical capsaicin (extract of hot chili peppers) may reduce the pain associated with diabetic nephropathyA13, A17

Possibly Effective

The following dietary supplements may help treat problems from diabetes:

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a substance produced by the body to help turn fat in energy for cells. It may also be helpful in diabetic neuropathy. A1, A4
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (oral or intravenous) is an antioxidant in foods like spinach, broccoli, yams, and tomatoes. It may reduce symptoms in patients with diabetic neuropathy. A3, A5, A10, A14
  • Astragalus membranaceus (Traditional Chinese Herb) may improve kidney function in people with diabetes related kidney diseaseA9
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet may help reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy. A16

Alternative therapies that may help include:

  • Acupuncture may reduce some symptoms in patients with diabetic neuropathy. B1

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil) may not reduce the risk of death or heart problems in diabetic patients. A6, A7, A12
  • Vitamin B may not improve kidney function in patients with diabetic nephropathy. A3, A11, A15
  • Vitamin E may not reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications or diabetic nephropathy. A2

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions.

  • Too much vitamin E may cause problems for people who take blood thinners, are diabetic, or are taking chemotherapy for cancer treatment.A11
  • Vitamin B may worsen kidney function and increase the risk of blood vessel disease in people with diabetes A11

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