I decided to see a preventive holistic md. He ran extensive blood work, stool, urine, and hair analysis tests. I was deficient in a couple of nutrients, so he gave me supplements to take. I am wondering if this is impacting my bg . I have been taking for a week and throughout that time, I notice better bg without doing anything else different. I haven’t needed to bolus before any meals, and am taking about 4-5 units less per day of insulin. My daily basal total is usually 13.65 units. Yesterday, I had to turn my basal off a few times and only took a total of 12.50 total units for the entire day w/no bolus. My bg were low to normal all day. Today, I am experiencing the same thing. Anyone else have a similiar experience? I wouldn’t think vitamins and minerals would do this.
I have taken some supplements that have dramatically effected my BG. I will preface this with I am about to graduate with a BS in biology from UC San Diego so while I don’t know everything, I am not ignorant about the science behind all this.
I took some mineral/oil vitamins for a while and it reduced my insulin needs by half (~50 per day to ~20-30). They helped reduce swings as well. I quit taking them when I couldn’t afford to anymore. I also took another herbal supplement for a while that reduced the amount I needed.
I know another diabetic that took the same stuff I did, with very different results. They also have taken other supplements that greatly helped them, but had no effect for me. It is important to remember that your body is unique, and you may find something that works well for you because of the needs of your individual body that may be different from someone else. I find it a problem when people either say that all non-synthetic medicines are useless because it didn’t work for them, etc, or that supplements will solve all your problems. You have to be smart about it, remember that someone will market you just about anything because it is in their economic interest to do so, you just have to find what works for your body and life.
I haven’t made up my mind about the supplements I’ve been taking for the last 2 months for diabetes. My blood sugar level has gotten much lower but that result is confounded by increasing exercise over the same time period. I have a biology degree and am not a doctor so I can only discuss my experimentation on myself. I used to use Turmeric extracts for inflammation; I have arthritis. Turmeric was very effective but problematic in that over time it harmed my liver (enzmes in blood work) and it made my urine smell bad (think asparagus effect).
I take the following but plan to stop taking the r-alpha lipoic acid, gtf chromium, and the biotin in June just to see what happens:
2x - 300 mg r-Alpha Lipoic Acid
5x - 200 micrograms GTF chromium
2 x - 5 mg Biotin
1x - 2500 micrograms B12
4x - 1200 mg of distilled fish oil
2x - 450 mg evening primrose oil
vitamin tablet with 1000 IU D3
The fish oil is very effective for my arthritis at this high dose. 2 weeks ago, I started giving my old dog 2 grams of fish oil and 450 mg of evening primrose oil in split doses. He’s in less pain and it’s easier for him to get up off the floor. He ran across the lawn last night to chase a critter.
r-Alpha Lipoic Acid is the bioactive form. If there isn’t an r-designation, then the Alpha Lipoic Acid is a racemic mix and is a waste of money.
The GTF chromium (glucose tolerance factor) seems to be more effective at higher dosages. It and the Biotin support the r-Alpha Lipoic Acid.
I worry a bit about taking so much chromium. Even though these are micrograms and the chromium is produced by yeast, chromium is a metal that I don’t want to build up in my tissues.
I’ve seen several recommendations for Nopal (Opuntia or prickly pear cactus). What dosage do you take? Have you experienced any negative effects other than going low? I tried 300 mg of bitter melon for a little while. I wasn’t impressed with it. Thanks for mentioning this one.
You need to learn exactly what is in your supplements.
Sometimes pharmaceuticals are secretly introduced into “natural” pills and can have very strong impacts. It is common to find sulfonylurea drugs in “natural” diabetes supplements. If you have any beta function left, as many Type 1s who have been in good control do nowadays, these drugs may cause insulin secretion.
Alpha Lipoic Acid can lower blood sugars for people with Type 1 according to Dr. Bernstein, but my reading of discussions about this supplement among people with diabetes has not resulted in my finding people reporting that it works. It can help with neuropathic pain, but few people report lowered blood sugar.
Cinnamon may appear to lower blood sugar, but when I tested it I found it was causing a HUGE blood sugar spike–up to 275–followed by a reactive low. This was disturbing. I would have missed the spike testing at only 1 hour or 2 hours.
Chromium only lowers blood sugar in people who are already deficient in it, which most people in the US are not. I have not seen reports of it doing anything for blood sugar among people with diabetes who tested it years ago and reported online.
Fenugreek may lower blood sugar, again because it contains chemicals similar to the sulfs.
So find out exactly what you took. And be wary about labels, Supplements are bottled in the US but most of the ingredients come from Chinese factories–supplement chemicals are no longer manufactured in the US. And the Chinese have a long track record for selling adulterated products. The American comanies who bottle and label this stuff rarely have the resources to check every batch for purity. When watchdogs check supplements they often find that the pills don’t contain what they say they contain either in dose, potency or even ingredients.
Thanks Jenny. Very interesting to say the least. I wonder which (if any) supplements are manufactured in the US? Too bad the new FDA rules concerning food origins don’t apply to supplements.
I’ve seen a few alpha lipoic acid studies and it seems that the racemic mixture was used. I’ve read that it’s virtually useless.
I’m Type 1, so perhaps my experiences differ from a Type 2. I tried various supplements (ALA, cinnamon, chromium) in differing doses over a good period of time. I drink fenugreek tea because I like the flavor, but it hasn’t effected my BG & tea isn’t a potent dose.
ALA didn’t lower my BG, though it does seem to help people with neuropathies. I’m not sure if I took the r form, hmmm. GTF chromium likewise did nothing.
Judith, be careful with goldenseal if you’re still taking this. It’s not that safe for long-term, consistent use.
If the ALA isn’t specified to be the r form, it doesn’t mean it would be totally useless. It just means that it would contain only half as much of the active form so you 'd need to use twice as much.
I have had success with “Glucose Optimizer” by Jarrow. It has a bunch of different herbs and vitamins in it. I brought it to my endo and she said it sounded pretty good. You can get it from iHerb.com (the website looks kind of shadey, but they are good, it only takes a few days to get to you).
I am (occassionally) taking ALA. I also haven’t noticed any differences in my blood sugar or insulin needs. I will try out Insulow (recommended by Dr. Bernstein) once my regular ALA runs out.
I also take vitamin D drops (based on blood results that showed a slight deficiency)
Someone at work has been urging me to consult a holistic MD for my niece, who has Type 1. I did not take her up on it because this doctor consults over the phone without ever seeing the patient. I thought that very odd. However, this post intrigues me. Perhaps certain supplements can reduce BS swings. Of course, she can never go off insulin and I would not seek a holistic doctor for that purpose. Anyone know of any competent holistic doctors who deal specifically with this? It would be great if certain vitamins minerals supplements reduced swings in BS. P.S. If you are recently diagnosed or in your honeymoon, then I’m afraid the supplements are not the cause of reduction in insulin usage.
I have been working with an amazing Certified Diabetes Educator who I believe has a degree in Biochemistry and I think is also a dietician. She has been a Type 1 diabetic for many decades. We have phone consultations; I email her my blood sugars. She has put me on several supplements to help with reducing my need for insulin. She has helped me so much more than my endo because she totally understands my life, and also we have been spending an hour a week together, which is WAY more time than you spend with an endo. I respect her recommendations on vitamins and supplements because of her bio-chem background and because she personally takes everything that she recommends, and she is in great control. By the way, she has created a WONDERFUL foot cream for diabetics; I’ve been using it every day and the skin on my feet feels so much better (it used to crack and bleed, especially on the heels). Here is her website; if you want to schedule an appointment, just call the number for customer service. Of course your niece still needs to be under the care of an endocrinologist; however, Anastasia can bring a whole new level of health and repair to the diabetic’s body. As she explains it to me, diabetes is a destructive disease that we will have our whole lives. So we need to take supplements every day to help repair the damage so that we feel better and have more energy and keep our organs healthy for the long term.
Gretchen, I think your reasoning sounds good unless, ALA has a minimum dose threshold. Some supplements have to be taken at a certain minimum amount before they have much effect. I don’t know whether this is true for ALA, but it’s a possible explanation for the the mixed results the studies showed.
Kerry, what supplements are you taking?
I don’t understand the problem. The dosage on the bottle should take into account the fact that only half the supplement is in the active form. If you’ve read somewhere that you should take X mg of R-ALA and you buy a product that says it’s S,R-ALA, then you take twice as much to get X mg of R-ALA.
If the S enantiomer also works or does other things, that’s different, and you’d have to take that into account.
yeah i’ve had similar experience with holistic dr.s. i know that a lot of people think they are quacks and i would too except for the fact that my normal endo and other dr.s werent able to help me so out of desperation i looked into holistic dr.s!
mine put me on something called “isinase” made by “medigenics” and it totally lowered my BG! it was amazing! the less insulin i have to take the better! what supplements did he give you?
It has recently come to light that vitamin D supplementation is necessary, and I believe Type 1s can be deficient in thiamine (another study). I will check her out; sounds like this is a safe bet.