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There are many different medications or diabetes medications, including insulin, which have their own section on the site.
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While each drug is unique in how it helps patients manage their condition, some work similarly and belong to the same drug class.
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The way they are administered can also be different, some drugs are taken orally and others are injected directly into the blood.
Most medications are for type II people who cannot control their blood sugar with strict diet and exercise alone. But some, such as metformin, are sometimes taken with insulin therapy in people with type I
As with all medications, hypoglycemic medications can have a number of side effects. These possible side effects are listed in the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with the medicine, so check this before starting treatment.
You may not experience any of the side effects listed, but if you do, talk to your doctor and/or care team as they may recommend a different medication that is more appropriate for your condition. They also help with questions or concerns about your medications.
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Depending on each individual’s circumstances, GPs may prescribe more than one antidiabetic drug to treat patients. Many people use popular supplements like omega-3 and magnesium to treat type 2 diabetes. But do these over-the-counter medications really work?
Some supplements can help control your blood sugar, but it’s important that they don’t interfere with other diabetes treatments. Brian Hagiwara/Getty Images
Of the 29.1 million Americans with diabetes, up to 31 percent use complementary or alternative medicine, including dietary supplements, to control their condition. In fact, the amount spent on supplements can be staggering. “I think it’s bigger than the pharmacy business when you add it all up,” says Jeffrey Tipton, DO, MPH, vice president and chief medical officer of AppleCare Medical Management in Los Angeles.
Is all that money being put to good use? “There is some evidence that some supplements may be helpful, but nothing conclusive,” says Julie T. Chen, MD, an internist and founder of Making Healthy EZ, an integrative health clinic in San Jose, California. Although you shouldn’t use supplements as a substitute for diabetes medication, some research shows that they can help treat type 2 diabetes.
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It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking or considering supplements, as some supplements may interfere with diabetes or other medications such as blood thinners.
Chromium is a metal and an important trace element that is believed to help lower blood sugar levels. It is found naturally in meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, spices and wholemeal and rye bread. As a supplement, it is sold as chromium picolinate, chromium chloride, and chromium nicotinate.
“People were excited about chrome about 20 years ago,” says Dr. Tipton. In small doses, its use seems safe for most people and may be helpful; but over the long term, chromium can cause side effects, including kidney problems — already a problem for some people with diabetes.
Magnesium This metal is important for healthy bones, muscle function, normal blood pressure and regular heart activity. People with diabetes tend to have low levels of magnesium, which is associated with lower insulin production and greater insulin resistance. “If a blood test shows low magnesium levels, a supplement may help,” says Susan Weiner, RDN, a certified diabetes educator in Merrick, New York, and author of the book.
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. Note that taking too much magnesium can cause diarrhea – be sure to check with your doctor before taking this or any supplement. Good sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, halibut, tuna, spinach and oat bran.
Omega-3 fatty acids These come from foods such as fish, some vegetable oils (canola and soybean), walnuts and wheat germ. Omega-3 supplements are available as capsules or oils. A review published in October 2015 in the journal PloS One found that omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides but have no effect on blood sugar control or total cholesterol levels. Additionally, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore notes that omega-3 fatty acids from fish raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol in people with diabetes, while omega-3s from flaxseed oil may provide the same benefit. In some studies, omega-3 fatty acids also raised LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Further research is needed, particularly long-term studies specifically looking at heart disease in people with diabetes. Fish oil can also interfere with blood thinners and blood pressure medications.
Vanadium, like chromium, is also a trace element. In the 1980s, research first showed that it could lower blood sugar levels. “Vanadium, along with its heavier relatives, molybdenum and tungsten, can mimic insulin,” says Weiner. “In animal cell studies, these minerals have been able to replace insulin.” But later studies showed that it had no effect on blood sugar levels.
Glucosamine No studies show that glucosamine is beneficial for people with diabetes, Tipton says. The evidence for it is only anecdotal, meaning some people say it helps them, Weiner says. “Glucosamine is important for the repair and maintenance of healthy joint cartilage, but when taken orally, it doesn’t reach the required amount,” he says.
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Alpha Lipoic Acid Also known as ALA, lipoic acid and thioctic acid, this substance is similar to a vitamin. As an antioxidant, it protects against cell damage caused by free radicals. ALA is found in liver, spinach, broccoli and potatoes. People with type 2 diabetes take ALA supplements to help the body use insulin more efficiently. ALA has also been used to prevent or treat diabetic neuropathy (neuropathy).
A study published in July 2014 in the journal Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome found that there are therapeutic benefits for ALA, but more research is needed, Weiner says. Warnings include that ALA can lower iron levels in the blood and interact with certain cancer drugs. In some cases, ALA can lower your blood sugar too much, so monitor your blood sugar carefully when using this supplement.
Bitter Melon – Despite its name, bitter melon is a vegetable that can also be found as a dietary supplement. There is evidence that plants such as bitter melon have glucose-lowering properties. Dr. Chen likes bitter melon because it is safe for most people. He recommends starting at 900 milligrams and adjusting the dose if it helps.
More research is needed on cinnamon, Chen says, but a systematic review of studies published in the September 2013 Annals of Family Medicine suggests that cinnamon may improve blood sugar levels in some people. Try adding cinnamon—make sure it’s unsweetened—to oatmeal and other foods, or sprinkle it in your coffee.
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If you want to use supplements, be sure to discuss your options with your doctor to make sure the medication you’re taking is safe and won’t interfere with your regular diabetes treatment.
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