In addition to the well-established interventions in regular medicine, patients are informed about other possibilities to improve their condition in many other ways. They are exposed to a multitude of suggested solutions outside the field of regular medicine, for example in pharmacies, in supermarkets, on the internet, in complementary medicine, etc. A selection of these alternative approaches will be discussed in this chapter.
In a study published in 2001, 44% of the patients with T2DM used over the counter supplements and 31% used alternative medication. A literature review in 2007 reported that complementary and alternative medicine use among people with diabetes ranges from 17% to 73%. The most widely used therapies among diabetic populations are nutritional supplements, herbal medicines, nutritional advice, spiritual healing and relaxation techniques. This means that a lot of patients try alternative approaches in addition to the treatment and advice they receive from care providers in regular medicine. Some will perhaps prove to be beneficial, but the majority of these therapies are not beneficial. Since at least a third of the patients with T2DM is taking alternative medication, these therapies ought to be studied and their value assessed and determined.