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From Los Angeles, California, USA:

I have type 2 diabetes treated with metformin, and I've heard that cider vinegar is good for diabetes so I purchased a dietary supplement which contains kelp, cider vinegar, and lecithin. Is it safe to use this dietary supplement?


The management of any form of diabetes has become much more effective, and at the same time, more demanding. For this reason, people with diabetes often feel that they are surrendering too much of their lives to the dictates of a health care provider. One response to this is to add a component to this care that they are themselves responsible for. Cider vinegar with kelp and lecithin is harmless and may have a placebo effect which is beneficial, but it is in no sense a part of the orthodox treatment of any form of diabetes.


Additional comments from Dr. Tessa Lebinger:

I don't know anything about the other ingredients, but I would stay away from kelp. The high iodine content can cause thyroid problems.


Additional comments from David Mendosa, A Writer on the Web:

Cider and other types of vinegar slow down stomach emptying and therefore the rate of digestion. This reduces the glycemic impact of the meal, something that is indeed good for people with diabetes. Physiologists have long known that highly acidic solutions slow down stomach emptying. The surprise, however, is how little is needed to reduce blood glucose levels. Several studies have shown that a realistic amount of vinegar or lemon juice in the form of a salad dressing consumed with a mixed meal has significant blood glucose lowering effects. For example, four teaspoons of vinegar in a vinaigrette dressing (four teaspoons vinegar and eight teaspoons oil) taken with an average meal lowered blood glucose by as much as 30 percent. These findings have important implications for people with diabetes or individuals at risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, or the metabolic syndrome.

The effect appears to be related to the acidity, because other organic acids (such as lactic acid and propionic acid) also have a blood glucose lowering effect. However, the degree of reduction varies with the type of acid. Acids that are small molecules work best. Thus hydrochloric acid -- the acid secreted by the cells in your stomach to kick start the digestion process is the best. However, don't even consider taking hydrochloric acid by mouth because it will burn the lining of the mouth, throat, and esophagus beyond repair.

Our studies have shown that lemon juice is just as powerful as vinegar. Lime juice is likely to work just as well. Acidic fruits such as passion fruit will also do the trick, but the more sugar they contain, the less likely an effect will be seen, because the two things will cancel each other out.

There is a section on vinegar from the forthcoming book that I am writing with Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell. What Makes My Blood Sugar Go Up...And Down? And 101 Other Frequently Asked Questions About Your Blood Glucose Levels to be published this summer by Marlowe & Company, New York.


Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

I do not know of the use of vinegar for folks with diabetes. It is not recommended in any nutrition guidelines.


Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:

It's safe but likely doesn't do anything at all except help the people manufacturing it and the people selling it to you. Sorry.


Original posting 15 Apr 2003
Posted to Alternative Therapies and Explanations


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:46
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