Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Diabetes


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal. People with diabetes have problems using food for energy. After a meal, carbohydrates in food are broken down into a sugar called glucose, which is carried by the blood to cells throughout the body. Cells require insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas, to help use blood glucose for energy.

People develop diabetes because the pancreas does not make enough insulin (type I diabetes) or because the cells in the muscles, liver and fat do not respond to insulin properly (type II diabetes), or both. As a result, the amount of glucose in the blood increases while the cells are starved of energy.

Diabetes is a serious condition and should be monitored by your doctor.


Symptoms of diabetes include:

Frequent urination

Extreme thirst

Extreme hunger

Weight loss



Blurred vision

Frequent infections

Erectile dysfunction (impotence)

Slow healing of cuts and sores

Diabetes needs to be treated by a doctor. Do not self-medicate with herbs and supplements.

A word of caution: Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement or herb. You have no way of knowing if your herb or supplement interferes with a health condition you have or a medication you take. You do not know about the purity or quality of a supplement, and much of the research on these substances is scant and questionable. Also, supplements in high concentrations can be dangerous. Your doctor is the best person to talk with about your concerns.

Herb or Supplement


Potential Interactions, Side Effects and Dangers

What the Experts Say


Prevents or treats diabetes

If you have severe heart disease or kidney disease, you should not take this. If your symptoms are severe, stop taking the supplement and call your doctor right away. Can cause stomach bleeding, irregular heartbeats, trouble breathing, tingling in your feet or lips, anxiety, or tiredness. Can also cause a sick to the stomach feeling, throwing up, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Take the supplement with meals with water or juice.

Magnesium is important for helping the body use insulin and burning carbs. Some studies have found a connection between people who don’t get enough magnesium and the risk of type I and type II diabetes. However, this has not been proven and researchers aren’t sure if magnesium worsens blood sugar control in people with type II or whether diabetes causes magnesium shortfalls. Stick to getting magnesium in food.


Helps insulin get blood sugar into cells.

If you take large doses, you may have stomach problems, damage to the liver, nerves and kidneys, or irregular heart beat. Call your doctor immediately. May interact with steroids such as prednisone. Talk to your doctor before taking this. Side effects are rare, but may include low blood sugar.

There is a link between low levels of chromium and diabetes, but exactly how is unclear. Some studies show chromium won’t help diabetes, but other research says it may help lower blood sugar levels for type II diabetes and lower the need for insulin in those with type I diabetes. Skip the supplement and get chromium from food.


Helps lower blood sugar levels and improve problems such as frequent urination, nerve pain and skin infections.

May cause an allergic reaction – facial swelling, numbness and trouble breathing. May increase the risk of bleeding. May affect the thyroid. May interfere with prescription medications. Few side effects. May cause dizziness, diarrhea and gas.

Studies have been small. Until the results of better studies are released, experts cannot recommend it at this time.

Dietary changes

Your dietitian will work with you to develop a diet that fits your lifestyle and helps control your diabetes. You will learn how foods and their timing affect your blood sugar control. If you need to lose weight, your dietitian will develop a plan to do just that. Remember, the most effective partner in your health care is you.

Uncovering How Women Sleep


American women are losing more sleep than ever. This lack of rest can affect almost every aspect of your life. Poor sleep can make you late for work and feel stressed. It may also leave you little energy or time for fun.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that women are more likely to have sleep problems than men. Women’s sleep problems can also change over time and may get worse at different stages in life.

According to the NSF, seven out of 10 of stay-at-home mothers, working mothers and single working women are likely to have insomnia a few nights each week.

Despite this, women are not getting to bed earlier. During the hour before going to bed, instead of retiring early, many women:

Watch TV

Finish chores

Do activities with children

Spend time on the Internet

Sleep problems in women

Women may have one of several sleep problems depending on their stage of life. Some common problems are:

Insomnia. More women than men have insomnia at least a few nights per week. These sleepless nights may come from menstruation, pregnancy, menopause or poor sleep habits.

Sleep apnea. This sleep disorder involves snoring, interrupted breathing and excessive daytime sleepiness. Although it’s more common in men, one in four women over age 65 may have it.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). RLS includes sensations in the legs during rest that may force people to move them around for relief. PLMD includes involuntary leg twitching or jerking during sleep.

Narcolepsy. It often includes an overwhelming urge to sleep, with sudden loss of muscle tone or strength.

Pain. More women than men suffer from nighttime pain. This pain or discomfort often interrupts their sleep. Such things as migraines, tension headaches, arthritis and heartburn commonly keep women from getting a good night’s sleep.

Tips for a good night’s sleep

When time is scarce, about half of women will sacrifice sleep and exercise. But sticking to a healthy routine may help you beat sleep issues.

Stick to a schedule. Go to bed and wake up the same time each day, even weekends.

Don’t exercise too late. Finish any workouts five or six hours before bedtime.

Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Stimulation from caffeine can take eight hours to wear off.

Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol causes you to sleep lighter. When its effects have worn off, you are more likely to wake up.

Avoid large meals and beverages late night. Indigestion can interfere with sleep. Too many fluids can increase urination.

Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt sleep. This includes decongestants.

Don’t nap during the day. Naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

Relax before bed. Light activity, like reading, listening to music or a warm bath, can be part of a bedtime ritual.

Have a good sleeping environment. Avoid things in the bedroom that can distract you from sleep, like noise, bright lights, the TV or a computer.

Don’t lie in bed awake. The anxiety of not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep. If you are still lying awake after 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

See a doctor if problems persist. A family doctor or a sleep specialist can diagnose a sleep disorder and help you get a restful sleep.

Easy Popsicles


OMG. This heat is out of control. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees tomorrow in NYC. So it turns out that my recent purchase of (BPA-free) popsicle molds from couldn’t have been more timely. These are the molds I bought: Tovolo Rocket Pop Molds.

In full disclosure, I bought these NOT because I’m an awesome mom who home-makes my kids ice pops but because my older son needs vitamin supplements and I have been searching for sneaky ways to get them into his stubborn, picky little body. One of the supplements I am supposed to be giving him is liquid fish oil. Right. You try giving your 5-year old a spoonful of a lemon flavored fish drink. I thought maybe raspberry lemonade ice pops would sufficiently mask the flavor of the fish oil. Not so much. So…now I’ve got these ice pop molds. I guess I might as well be an awesome mom who home-makes my kids ice pops.

I found a plethora of popsicle recipes online, but none as easy as one that simply called for lemonade and raspberries. It can’t get much easier than that! I decided to give the kids their choice of which fruit they wanted to use for their pops. My 5-year old chose mango and banana and my 2 year old chose blueberries. I used (organic) lemonade (from Trader Joe’s) as the liquid for both types of pops. I use the organic lemonade not because I needed the lemons to be pesticide-free (since the pesticides probably wouldn’t seep through the thick skin of the lemons anyway) but more because the ingredients in the organic variety are simply water, lemon juice, and sugar (as opposed to artificial chemicals, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup in the non-organic varieties). You can also home-make the lemonade but this blog is about finding quick ways to do healthy things and so buying the lemonade was my shortcut.

This whole process took about 20-25 minutes and my kids and I had so much fun doing it! We started out making the banana mango pops. Here’s what we did:

Note that the following amounts are just approximations…

Banana Mango Pops

·         6 oz of lemonade

·         Half a banana

·         1/3 of a mango (I used fresh, but you can also use frozen)

Puree the above ingredients in a blender to your desired consistency. (Keep in some chunks of fruit if you think your kids will eat it that way.)

Pour into molds, leaving a little bit of space at the top to allow for expansion when freezing.

The kids and I tasted the mixture and it was amazing! We had more than enough for 3 molds and I let the kids drink the remaining mixture.

Then we did the blueberry pops:

Blueberry Lemonade Pops

·         6 oz of lemonade

·         1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen but you can also use fresh)

Puree the above ingredients in a blender to your desired consistency. (Keep in some chunks of fruit if you think your kids will eat it that way.)

Pour into molds, leaving a little bit of space at the top to allow for expansion when freezing.

The kids and I tasted the mixture and it was a bit tart, so I added a few frozen raspberries and a small squeeze of agave. I tasted it again and it was delicious!

Here’s what they looked like in the molds before freezing:

Here’s what they looked like the next evening:

Easy, delicious, healthy, refreshing, and fun! We will definitely be making these again…and even experimenting with other ingredients.  Enjoy!