Natural Diabetes Cure on the Internet?  Eight Questions to Ask

A pill that cures diabetes would be wonderful. An Internet search for natural diabetes cures found 38 different items that were promoted including: corn silk, fenugreek, ginseng and mango leaves. Before buying pills containing any promoted ingredient, you probably would like to know if it works. There are two ways to evaluate proposed pills to cure diabetes. The first is to spend hours on each item searching out the best information. This is very hard to do for 38 items. The second is to evaluate each claim for red flags that raise concerns about the claim’s accuracy. Seven questions are listed below that should raise red flags.

  1. What is the quality of the evidence? Randomized double blind studies provide the best evidence. Other types of studies provide evidence that is less reliable. If there are no scientific studies supporting a treatment, you should be very skeptical.
  2. Are testimonials the only evidence? Testimonials from people who have tried a cure provide one of the least believable types of evidence. These are often fake news. Even if they are sincere, what works for another person may not work for you.
  3. Is it too good to be true? If so, it probably isn’t true. If taking fenugreek pills could cure diabetes, the person who discovered this would become famous and every business making money from growing and selling fenugreek would promote its use. Fenugreek is an excellent spice, but there is no good evidence fenugreek pills can cure diabetes. The stronger the claimed benefit for a natural cure, the more evidence you should request.
  4. Is there a standard treatment? When a disease is hard to treat, people often experiment with non-standard treatments. You should devote extra care investigating a non-standard treatment before trying.
  5. What is the source of the information? An article in Beef Magazine titled “Could Beef be the Simple Cure for Diabetes” is clearly biased. Good sources of information about diabetes include The American Diabetes Association, the Center for Disease Control and the American College of Endocrinology.
  6. Are there more than two ingredients? It is very hard to scientifically prove that one ingredient will improve diabetes. It is virtually impossible to show a combination of 10 ingredients works well, or if it does work, which ingredients are actually helping. Also, different ingredients work for different people. You would probably not feel comfortable going to a doctor who gave everyone a blood pressure pill with 10 different medications knowing each could have side effects and some may not even work for you.
  7. Is the treatment standardized? For example, plants come in many varieties that may have different active ingredients. Some plants with the same name are not even the same species. This lack of standardization makes it difficult to treat with many herbal medications. If you are taking an herbal, you either want a standardized extract or you should stick with the same brand.

If there is a red flag from any of the above questions, you should be very skeptical and want a full investigation before using any product.

Editor’s Note: In the future, this column will look at the influence of diet and lifestyle issues on diabetes.



David Trachtenbarg, M.D.

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