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May 18, 2000

Alternative Therapies and Explanations

Question from Lincoln, Nebraska, USA:

My son is 17 years old and was diagnosed with type 1 about 8 months ago. I have a well-meaning neighbor that is trying to convince me to have my son take a nutritional supplement to help in his treatment of diabetes. She has provided me with some literature that seems to suggest that these nutritional supplements will help him. Personally I am very doubtful about using these products or any other type of nutritional supplement that claims to be able to help a multitude of medical problems. What is your opinion?

Answer:

Remember it is all medicine; when they harvest something and put it in a pill it is medicine. Effects, side effects! — that’s what I tell patients. The FDA process is long and bothersome, but we have a better chance that the product is safe — and even that process occasionally releases a dangerous product.

The FDA today released a warning about some diabetes related herbal products. The companies wanted to be sure they worked so the slipped some very effective diabetes drugs in the mix and guess what: people got very low.

I don’t claim to know all there is to know about all these available products, but to call them “nutritionals” and not medicine is just not true!

LD