Visits to a naturopathic doctor improves type 2 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Naturopathic care helps type 2 diabetes

Naturopathic care that incudes supplements, counseling and dietary teaching improves blood sugar levels and mood for people living with type 2 diabetes, found researchers. The result of seeing a naturopathic doctor (ND) was also found to lead to better eating and exercise habits, which also helps diabetics feel more in control.

Combining complementary medicine with conventional treatment minimizes effects of diabetes

The study, published April, 2012 in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, was a collaborative effort by Group Health Research Institute and Bastyr University Research Institute.

According to statistics, diabetes affects 26 million Americans, making it important to find optimal treatment options.

Participants in the study received diet instruction and exercise counseling from four naturopathic physicians. The study included 40 people. Some were also given supplements and stress management and all of them continued their usual medical care with prescriptions from their medical doctor.

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In the six months of the study that included about 4 visits for naturopathic care, the participants were monitoring their glucose levels more consistently and experienced improvement in mood.

Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH, director of the Center for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Wellness at Bastyr University and its clinic, the Bastyr Center for Natural Health said in a press release, "Patients involved in the study cited the benefits of trying different approaches to find the best ways to minimize the effects of type 2 diabetes. In many ways, that strategy mirrors our partnership with Group Health in this research study—working together to discover the best possible solutions."

He adds the finding is “encouraging” for people fighting diabetes. It’s also important to find better ways to treat type 2 diabetes because it’s one of the top ten causes of death in America and one of the most costly diseases. Recent estimates predict 5.1 million Americans will have diabetes by 2025, with millions living with the disease for decades without better prevention and treatment strategies.

Naturopathic care helped the diabetics in the study drop their hemoglobin A1c level almost one point, compared to a half point for 329 similar patients receiving only conventional care during the same time period. Bradley says the study was small and observational – but encouraging - but should be confirmed in larger studies with more participants.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
April 18, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile