Supplements vs. Medication for Type 2 Diabetes


If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may be tempted to try supplements instead of the medication your doctor has prescribed. But that’s a risky move, since there’s no reliable evidence that any supplement will help, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Such products often contain a laundry list of herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds. In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission have cracked down on companies selling products that make explicit or implied medical claims such as “lowers blood sugar naturally,” “can replace medicine in the treatment of diabetes,” and “for relief of diabetic foot pain,” though many persist.

Not only do the supplements contain ingredients that are unproven and potentially unsafe, but people taking them may delay getting the medical treatment they really need. Moreover, because supplements are not monitored with the same exacting standards that FDA-approved drugs are, there can be considerable variability in the amount of ingredients in each bottle. Last but not least, the supplement may cause side effects that can be severe and debilitating, which also makes their use risky.