This story was originally published by U.S. News on July 20, 2017.
You have diabetes, and it can be challenging to manage. You’re watching TV one night and there’s a commercial for a product that says it can cure all of your diabetes woes, magically lowering your blood sugar. You wonder: Should I order that?
The lure of products that may not do all that they claim is understandable when you have diabetes. But that doesn’t mean everything that’s said to help you will actually do so.
“The unfortunate fact is that living with diabetes is difficult,” says Brian Dunning, a Laguna Niguel, California-based science writer and director of the film “Principles of Curiosity,” which focuses on how to evaluate dubious claims. “People who have diabetes are always going to be on the lookout for ways to improve their situation. In some cases, they get desperate. And when there is desperation, unfortunately, there are always charlatans waiting to take advantage.”
Another reason that someone with diabetes may turn to products that are not medications is because they want to try something more natural, says endocrinologist Dr. Deena Adimoolam, an assistant professor of diabetes, endocrinology and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Products advertised for diabetes outside of medications can include – but aren’t limited to – supplements, herbs, juices, shakes, “miracle” pills or products said to quickly help diabetes complications like diabetic neuropathy. These products may claim to lower blood sugar, reduce weight, cure complications or stifle your appetite. There are also books that heavily promote specific plans for weight loss to cure diabetes but don’t have the evidence to back up what they say, Dunning says.
Generally speaking, the nutritional products mentioned above are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is the federal government agency that requires rigorous clinical studies before it will approve medications and medical devices. The studies required by the FDA help to ensure a product is as safe as possible. Still, products not approved by the FDA may appeal to people with diabetes if they’re easy to obtain and at a lower cost, says nurse practitioner Stephen Ferrara, an associate dean of clinical affairs and assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City.
Health products and supplements not backed by the FDA do not undergo the same rigorous studies, and because they are sold as supplements, their manufacturers can make claims not supported by scientific evidence, Ferrara says. Additionally, the ingredients in supplements or similar nutritional products may vary widely from brand to brand.
Read the full article by U.S. News contributor Vanessa Caceres.