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October 16, 2000

Alternative Therapies and Explanations

Question from Virginia,USA:

I have type 1 diabetes and I take an herbal supplement (Evening Primrose Oil). I noticed that it has a hyperglycemic effect on my blood sugars (200 mg/dl [11.1 mmol/L] increase for every 500 mg). I was wondering if taking such things would be a good idea when you are having severe lows due to sickness and have to eat a lot.

Answer:

The first thing that comes to mind is whether you should really take the evening primrose oil. If this substance causes you to have higher sugars, and it does not have scientific evidence for improving diabetes, why would you take it?

The problem of severe low blood sugars is a common problem and needs to be addressed with your diabetes care providers. A number of things can be done to decrease the frequency of low sugars. These include a change in your insulin dose, a change in the types of insulin used, an alteration in the types and amounts of foods you eat, and the timely use of snacks and meal times. My recent review of evening primrose oil does not indicate it has any beneficial effects on the treatment of diabetes. It is an oil, most made up of unsaturated fats. There is always the question of true potency, stability, and safe dosage. For now, I would recommend contacting your diabetes care team and avoid the evening primrose oil.

JTL