Michelle Pugle is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of experience contributing accurate and accessible health information to authority publications.
Kashif J. Piracha, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and nephrology. He has an active clinical practice at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital in Houston, Texas.
Treating diabetes depends on a few factors, including type and severity. Some people may be able to treat some diabetes with natural and alternative methods to medications. These are considered complementary and alternative methods or traditional medications for diabetes. Examples include increasing exercise and using specific herbal remedies for diabetes. Every case of diabetes is unique to the person experiencing it.
This article can help you learn about natural and alternative methods for treating some diabetes types, but it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider about any treatment options. 

Whether or not you can treat diabetes without medication depends on the type of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, a person either makes too much or too little insulin, causing blood sugar spikes and crashes. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin medication to help them regulate their blood sugar levels. You cannot replace insulin with alternative treatments.
Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) may be treated without medication. This depends on the severity of the diabetes and whether or not other health complications exist. Some people may be able to treat type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity and choosing diabetes-friendly foods and beverages.
Diabetes during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes, can also be treated (in most cases) without medication.
Your healthcare provider can help you make an informed choice about what methods are safest and more likely to be effective in your case. Some natural and herbal remedies can interact negatively (contradict) with diabetes and other medications you may be taking. 
There are several types of alternative treatment for diabetes, including the following:
Being more active can make your body more sensitive to insulin and help you control your blood sugar levels. They also note regular exercise helps lower your risk of heart disease and nerve damage associated with diabetes. 
While physical activity is better than none, consider Ayurveda yoga for diabetes. Ayurveda is a traditional medicine system that originated in India thousands of years ago.
Yoga for diabetes works in the following ways, according to a 2018 review:
One 2017 research review of studies on herbal acupuncture for type 2 diabetes management found it to be a safe complementary and alternative treatment method (i.e., it didn’t have significant or severe side effects).
Herbal acupuncture demonstrated more effectiveness than non-herbal acupuncture treatment. However, more research is needed.

Different cultures have different approaches to treating diseases like diabetes. Nearly 90% of all countries may use traditional medicine including herbal remedies, acupuncture, yoga, indigenous therapies, and others to treat ailments like diabetes. Learning about different methods doesn’t mean replacing modern medicine, but rather, bringing the two together for a healthier life.
Herbal acupuncture combines traditional method acupuncture with herbal therapy injected into the acupuncture points.
Herbs and alternative therapies used include:
The exact benefits of natural remedies can be difficult to determine due to poor quality control measures leading to inconsistent effects of the remedies.
Vanadium is an element naturally found in mushrooms, grains, herbs, and spices such as parsley, dill, and pepper. While it has shown some promise as an anti-diabetic herbal remedy, experts say more research is necessary before using vanadium for diabetes.
Side effects from excess vanadium can include:
Consider the DASH diet, which is similar to the Mediterranean diet. The DASH diet or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a widely-promoted eating pattern said to be suitable for treating high blood pressure. It includes complex carbohydrates (whole fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy) and recommends avoiding alcohol, high-sodium, and sugar-added foods. 
Documented benefits of the DASH diet for people with diabetes include:
People with type 2 diabetes may benefit from adding complementary and alternative methods of treatment for diabetes into their wellness routine. Specific therapies include exercises like yoga, acupuncture or herbal acupuncture and natural remedies, and dietary changes including adopting the DASH diet. 
Complementary and alternative methods of treatment for diabetes may work for some cases of diabetes and not for others. There may also be other health complications to consider before starting any new remedy or routine. If you are considering how to treat diabetes without medication, do consider speaking with your healthcare provider about your options.

Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help in the management of diabetes. Foods not to eat with diabetes alcohol, high-sodium foods, and foods and beverages with added sugars. Choosing to eat a DASH diet can help.

Stress can make it more difficult to manage your blood sugar, which makes diabetes worse. Learning to manage and reduce stress plays a key role in managing diabetes without medication.
You can talk to your local pharmacist, naturopathic doctor, or ask your healthcare provider for recommendations on herbal supplements for diabetes. Speaking with a professional can help you narrow down what may be most effective for your case of diabetes. Be sure to tell them about any current supplements or medications you may be taking for any condition.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. Insulin, medicines, and other diabetes treatments.
University of Rochester Medical Center. Can you treat diabetes without medication?
American Diabetes Association. Blood sugar and exercise.
Raveendran AV, Deshpandae A, Josh SR. Therapeutic role of yoga in type 2 diabetes. Endocrinology and metabolism. 2018;33(3):307–317. doi:10.3803/EnM.2018.33.3.307
Lee SW, Nam MH, Lee BC. Herbal acupuncture for type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysisExp Ther Med. 2017;13(6):3249-3256. doi:10.3892/etm.2017.4379
World Health Organization. WHO Global center for traditional medicine.
Cefalu WT, Stephens JM, Ribnicky DM. Diabetes and herbal (botanical) medicine. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011:19.
Ścibior A, Pietrzyk Ł, Plewa Z, Skiba A. Vanadium: Risks and possible benefits in the light of a comprehensive overview of its pharmacotoxicological mechanisms and multi-applications with a summary of further research trends. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology: Organ of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS). 2020;61:126508. doi:10.1016/j.jtemb.2020.126508
Campbell AP. DASH eating plan: An eating pattern for diabetes management. Diabetes Spectrum: A Publication of the American Diabetes Association. 2017;30(2):76–81. doi:10.2337/ds16-0084
Intermountain Healthcare. Stress is affecting your type 2 diabetes.
By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind. 

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