Vanadium & Diabetes: Does It Really Work?
There are many popular natural remedies for type 2 diabetes. Some of the most commonly used natural herbs and supplements include cinnamon, bitter melon and chromium. For at least a century, vanadium has been used to fight diabetes. However it wasn’t until recent years, that this substance gained the attention of researchers for its possible role in the regulation of abnormal blood sugar levels for diabetic patients. But does this natural treatment really work for people with diabetes?
What is Vanadium?
Vanadium is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for the treatment of diabetes, anemia, high cholesterol, and more.
Vanadium is a soft metallic element that is frequently used in the production of certain alloy metals. Small amounts of vanadium are also found in the human body and in other living organisms. It is thought that this important element participates in chemical reactions within the body.
Vanadium and Diabetes
Current research indicates that vanadium may have properties that are similar to insulin. Laboratory studies have shown that vanadium can activate insulin receptors on the cell walls when this interaction is studied at the chemical level. When further studies were done in animal models, it was suggested that vanadium does not actually activate the insulin receptors but instead that it increases the effectiveness of insulin in other ways.
The results of scientific research in human subjects has been very positive for vanadium in patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. At this time, clinical trials are underway to determine how this supplement affects the diabetic patient. Studies are showing that vanadium can reduce fasting glucose levels, hemoglobin a1c readings and the results of the oral glucose tolerance test. The exact way that vanadium works to lower blood sugar in humans is still being carefully studied.
Although these results are exciting, there are concerns about potential side effects of this element. This metal may accumulate in certain tissues of the body and there are concerns that it could contribute to lung cancer after laboratory mice taking certain types of vanadium developed this complication. Studies must carefully examine the side effects of this supplement before making recommendation for the use of vanadium in clinical practice.
At this time there are no clear recommendations for the use of vanadium in diabetic patients and the safe dose of this supplement remains unknown. Patients should avoid taking large amounts of vanadium because this mineral can accumulate in the bone, liver and kidneys possibly causing toxicity. If you have diabetes, this substance may help reduce blood sugar by helping the body use its own insulin more effectively. However, it may interact with certain medications or may not be safe for you to use. It is important to discuss the use of any supplement or herbal treatment with your physician before you start taking it.