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Book and Media Reviews
January 30, 2008

Complementary Therapies and the Management of Diabetes and Vascular Disease: A Matter of Balance

JAMA. 2008;299(4):457-462. doi:10.1001/jama.299.4.458

The endocrinologist who recommends daily doses of meditation, the diabetologist who suggests the need for energy therapies, and the primary care physician who urges reflexology and herbal therapies are not familiar characters in the current landscape of diabetes care. This is not for lack of a mounting problem. The incidence of diabetes mellitus is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States and throughout the world in parallel with the obesity epidemic and widespread physical inactivity. Many patients with diabetes seek complementary therapies to help manage other aspects of their illness, such as pain, stress, and anxiety. However, complementary therapies and traditional medicine have long remained distinct approaches to addressing health needs. Integrating complementary therapies and traditional medicine has been challenging, partly because much of complementary medicine has not been validated by traditional scientific standards and also because traditional medical education does not provide substantial training in complementary therapies. By extension, most traditional clinicians do not routinely ask their patients about concomitant use of complementary therapies, and most are unprepared to respond substantively when patients inquire about such therapies.