• Complementary and alternative medicine;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • effectiveness;
  • systematic review


Background  Many patients with diabetes mellitus report the use of CAM.

Objectives  To summarise and critically evaluate systematic reviews of any type of CAM for the treatment of diabetes.

Methods  Four electronic databases were searched to identify all relevant systematic reviews published between January 2000 and May 2011.

Results  Twelve systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria. These reviews evaluated the effectiveness of any type of CAM, herbal medicine, qi gong, tai chi, massage, moxibustion and yoga for the treatment and/or management of diabetes mellitus. Reviews also assessed the effectiveness of: pharmacological and lifestyle interventions to prevent or delay the onset of the disease; the effectiveness of herbal remedies and dietary supplements for glucose control; and the effectiveness of yoga-based programmes on physiologic and anthropometrical risk profiles and related clinical outcomes. Six reviews were of high quality and six indicated high risk of bias. Eleven reviews arrived at cautious or negative conclusions. One systematic review of massage reported positive conclusions.

Conclusions  Evidence supporting the effectiveness of CAM as a treatment option for diabetes is scarce.