Letters from Readers

By: Daniel Trecroci

Twenty-five percent of all people with diabetes feel that alternative therapies are beneficial in their diabetes treatment, but consider conventional diabetes medications and therapies to be superior.

Edmund A. Ryan and colleagues in Edmonton, Alberta, surveyed 403 people with diabetes and 85 control subjects to measure the effects of their diabetes therapy. The results of their survey were presented at the American Diabetes Association’s scientific sessions in June. Twenty-eight percent of the subjects with diabetes were type 1 and 46 percent took insulin. Subjects were asked to measure the effectiveness of their prescribed medications on a scale of -5 to +5. Note was also made of conventional, over-the-counter supplements such as folic acid, vitamins A,B,C,D,K,E and iron. All other therapies were considered alternative medications.

People with diabetes believed that prescribed medications improved their condition more than alternative therapies by a score of +3.5 vs. +2.6 for the alternative medicines. Additionally, people with diabetes spent an average of $18.43 (U.S) a month on prescribed medications, $7.06 (U.S) a month on conventional supplements (vitamins A and B, folic acid and calcium) and $9.93 (U.S) a month on alternative medications.

Canada has a national health care system that covers most prescribed medications.

The most common alternative medications taken by diabetic subjects were garlic (8 percent), echinacea (5.2 percent), herb mixtures (4 percent), chromium (3.7 percent) and glucosamine sulfate (3.5 percent).

Profile of Subjects Studied

Type 1 – 28 Percent – Type 2 – 72 Percent

Smokers – 17 Percent – Nonsmokers – 83 Percent

Take Insulin – 46 Percent – Take No Insulin- 54 Percent



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