Diabetes care is always advancing, and it's possible for most people to effectively manage the condition. However, diabetes may still seem difficult to live with, even when it's well managed, and some people seek out complementary and alternative treatments to help them cope. These are not replacements for medication, diet and exercise, but they could be helpful adjuncts to treatment. If any of these therapies appeal to you, be sure to talk to your doctor before you start them.


Acupuncture, a very old procedure that involves a practitioner inserting needles into specific points on the body, may trigger the release of natural painkillers within the body. For this reason, some people who suffer from diabetes complications such as neuropathy pain are helped by acupuncture treatments. Some studies also suggest acupuncture may help control appetite in people who are overweight or obese, which could help with weight loss. Acupuncture services are widely available across the country, which means you will likely have the opportunity to try it if you are interested and your doctor approves of the treatment for you.

Relaxation therapies

Diabetes care can be stressful for you, especially when it’s added to the rest of the issues you encounter in life. Learning to manage your stress in healthy ways could be life-changing. You may wish to look into relaxation therapies - from mindful meditation to simply centering yourself into the experience of your body - if you feel your stress levels are very high.

One kind of relaxation therapy is guided imagery. This teaches you to create a mental image and meditate on it, which could help you get insight into a situation or problem, such as how you feel about your diabetes. Creating positive or aspiration-based images may also help improve your state of mind - something we could all use at one point or another.


Massage may help you in many ways. It can certainly relax you and allow you time to take care of yourself, which is important when you live with a chronic illness like diabetes. However, a skilled massage therapist can also provide treatments that may improve blood circulation. This could help to address diabetes complications like neuropathy. If you experience pain from diabetes complications, massage may also help you manage it without medication (or in addition to your prescribed medication).

Massage is well worth looking into, though you should talk to your doctor and ensure the type you are considering is suitable for people living with diabetes.

Vitamins and supplements

There are many vitamins and supplements you may be interested in investigating in addition to your diabetes medications. It is especially important to discuss these choices with your doctor, as there are many potential drug interactions even with supplements that seem completely innocuous to you. Some places to start researching include vitamin D and calcium supplements, as well as any other vitamins you and your doctor feel would be appropriate. There are also many supplements that may have beneficial effects for diabetics, but your doctor is the best source of information on these.

For more on alternative treatments:

Chinese Medicine and Diabetes
Natural Supplements for People with Diabetes
Beware of Misleading Dietary Supplement Labels