Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with glucose-lowering effect is increasingly being sought by patients and health care professionals. Its use is estimated at 17 to 80% among diabetic patients. Not only is this rarely reported to healthcare providers, but also that some CAM therapies have no empirical evidence. A review of commonly used CAM is therefore essential for safe and effective control of blood glucose level. A PubMed search was done using the following key terms: “natural products” “herbal medicine” “vitamins” “minerals” “herbs” “botanicals” “complementary and alternative medicine” “extract” “food” “diet” combined with the terms “diabetes” “diabetes mellitus” or “anti-diabetic”. Some papers were found through tracking citations from other publications. Commonly used glucose-lowering herbs include Ginseng species, Momordica charantia (Karela), Trigonella foenum graecum, Gymnema sylvestre, Allium cepa(onion), Allium sativum (garlic), Pterocarpus marsupium, Vaccinium myrtillus, Atriplex halimus and Aloe vera. Other alternative therapies were chromium, vanadium, magnesium, vitamin E, acupuncture and hot-tub therapy. In conclusion,research and use of CAM therapy is on the increase worldwide. Stringent regulatory policies and guidelines on CAM use are required to ensure that safe and appropriate CAM use is guided by empirical evidence.
Key words: Complementary and alternative medicine, traditional, diabetes, glucose lowering, herbal medicine, regulatory policies.
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