Eating a well-rounded diet is an essential part of managing diabetes. However, taking certain supplements and herbs may provide additional benefits.

Recall of metformin extended release

In May 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that some makers of metformin extended release remove some of their tablets from the U.S. market. This is because an unacceptable level of a probable carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) was found in some extended-release metformin tablets. If you currently take this drug, call your healthcare professional. They will advise whether you should continue to take your medication or if you need a new prescription.

In the past, type 2 diabetes was often referred to as adult-onset diabetes, but it’s becoming increasingly common in children. This form of diabetes is caused when your body either resists insulin or does not produce enough. The result is high blood sugar levels, which can damage your organs and cause other complications.

There is no cure. However, many people are able to manage their blood glucose levels with diet, exercise, and medication. Some of these medications include:

  • insulin therapy
  • metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others)
  • sulfonylureas
  • meglitinides

A nutritious, balanced diet, physical activity, and maintaining a moderate weight are the first, and sometimes, the most important parts of diabetes treatment. But when those are not enough to maintain your blood sugar levels, a doctor can decide which medications will work best for you.

Along with these treatments, people with diabetes have tried numerous herbs and supplements to improve their diabetes. Some of these alternative treatments are said to help:

  • manage blood sugar levels
  • reduce resistance to insulin
  • prevent diabetes-related complications

Some supplements have shown promise in animal studies. But there’s currently only limited evidence they have the above-mentioned benefits in humans.

It’s always best to let the foods you eat provide your vitamins and minerals.

However, more and more people are turning to alternative medicine and supplements. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, few supplements have enough evidence to support use for preventing or treating diabetes.

Supplements should not be used to replace standard diabetes treatment. Doing so can put your health at risk.

It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before using any supplements. Some of these products can interfere with other treatments and medications. Just because a product is natural does not mean it’s safe to use.

The following supplements have shown promise in improving blood sugar management and other diabetes-related complications.


Chinese medicine has been using cinnamon for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. It has been the subject of numerous studies to determine its effect on blood glucose levels.

A 2019 research review suggests that cinnamon helps lower fasting blood glucose levels. More studies are being done, but cinnamon is showing promise for helping treat diabetes.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH), “Cinnamon should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking care if you have health problems.” The NIH states this is particularly true for those living with diabetes.


Chromium is an essential trace element. It’s used in the metabolism of carbohydrates. However, research on the use of chromium for diabetes treatment is limited. A 2020 review of literature involving 28 trials suggests that chromium supplements may help reduce fasting glucose levels in those living with type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine. Many people with diabetes are thiamine deficient. This may contribute to some diabetes complications. Increasing evidence also links low thiamine to heart disease and blood vessel damage.

Thiamine is water-soluble. However, benfotiamine, a supplemental form of thiamine, is lipid-soluble. It more easily penetrates cell membranes. Some research suggests that benfotiamine can prevent diabetic complications. However, other studies have not shown any positive effects.

Alpha-lipoic acid

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant. Research suggests it may:

However, more research is needed. Furthermore, ALA needs to be taken with caution, as it has the potential to lower blood sugar levels to dangerous levels.

Bitter melon

Bitter melon is used to treat diabetes-related conditions in countries like Asia, South America, and others. However, human data has been limited until recently.

Research conducted in 2020 suggests that bitter melon helped lower glucose levels in people living with type 2 diabetes. However, this study was fairly small. More research is needed before a definitive conclusion can be made.

Green tea

Green tea contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants.

The main antioxidant in green tea is known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Laboratory studies have suggested that EGCG may have numerous health benefits including:

  • lower cardiovascular disease risk
  • improved glucose management
  • better insulin activity


Resveratrol is a chemical found in wine and grapes. In animal models, it helps prevent high blood sugar. Animal studies have also shown that it can reduce oxidative stress, but human data is limited. It’s too soon to know if supplementation helps with diabetes.


Magnesium is an essential nutrient found in many foods.

Research suggests supplemental magnesium may improve glucose levels in those living with diabetes. It may also improve insulin sensitivity in those at risk.

Eating foods rich in magnesium is always a good idea. But talk with a healthcare professional before taking magnesium supplements. Too much can be dangerous and lead to side effects like nausea and diarrhea.

Below are some frequently asked questions about herbs and supplements for diabetes.

What supplements may help with diabetes?

Supplements like cinnamon, chromium, vitamin B1 (benfotiamine form), alpha-lipoic acid, bitter melon, green tea, resveratrol, and magnesium may be beneficial for those living with diabetes. But it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional before adding any supplements to your routine.

Are there any natural remedies for diabetes?

Many people have found success with lifestyle modifications and natural remedies to manage diabetes. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet, exercising regularly, reducing stress levels, and supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals may all be helpful. Always talk with a healthcare professional before making changes to your diabetes treatment plan

Are there any over-the-counter treatments for diabetes?

Diabetes is a complex condition and cannot be treated with over-the-counter medications. It’s important to work with a healthcare professional on an individualized treatment plan. However, certain vitamins, minerals, and supplements may help support diabetes management.

Supplements may have the potential to help manage diabetes. Talk with your healthcare professional before taking any supplement, as some have the potential to interact with other medications or cause side effects. Additionally, make sure you do not substitute supplements for medications without a doctor’s approval.

Keep in mind that more research is needed to understand the potential benefits of these and other supplements on diabetes management. It’s also important to follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and take steps to reduce stress. These lifestyle habits can have a positive effect on blood sugar management.