A Gallery of Diabetes Quacks

By Janet Ford, DietPower Senior Editor

Searching the Web for the best treatment for your diabetes? You'll find thousands that say they'll help. Unfortunately, many of these helpers are simply hucksters who care more about your greenbacks than your glucose levels.

Beware any supplement or therapy that says it'll "cure" your diabetes, because it's no more likely to do that than to cure a ham. Diabetes can be treated and controlled, but not cured. Once you're diabetic, you're always diabetic.

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Even if you rule out the "cures," the Web offers an amazing variety of useless treatments for diabetes. Here are three of our favorites.


Watch out for supplements bearing the dangerous claim that they can replace your diabetes medications. Take (or, better yet, don't take) Gourdin, for instance. Gourdin's inventor, an Indian researcher named Pushpa Khanna, flatly calls it a "miracle in diabetic research." This miracle hasn't reached other diabetes researchers, though.

The supplement is made from the seeds of a bitter melon that, when given to diabetics, lowers their blood sugar. It also brings insulin-producing cells back from the dead. You can cut down on your insulin shots, and, according to Khanna, do away with important diabetic drugs like Glucophage. You can also give the stuff to your children and your cat!

Since it's a supplement, Khanna doesn't need approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell Gourdin. But she also says she's "refining" it and will seek the FDA's blessing anyway. Part of this approval process includes what she calls a major study of the supplement at Yale University. She produces no documentation for that, but she does have a paper from an alleged clinical trial on 99 patients. When a paper like this doesn't say where it's been published, whether it's reviewed by other experts in the field, or even where the research took place, alarm bells should go off.

Vitality Plus

Another supplement making an even wilder claim is Vitality Plus, the product of a "nutritional biochemist" named Alan Jones, who doesn't present his credentials anywhere.

Download DietPower free trialClever marketers mix outrageous statements with the truth. The Vitality Plus web site's general information about diabetes is fairly accurate, but things spin out of control when you read the "testimonies."

Hallelujah! One woman, supposedly a nurse for 40 years, says she no longer has diabetes. Another user not only went off his diabetes drugs, but Vitality Plus restored his ailing heart to boot. Another says it relieved her fibromyalgia; yet another says it made carpal tunnel syndrome go away; and still another says it got rid of the pain her stepson had from third-degree burns.

Keep this rule of thumb in mind when shopping on the Internet: A product that says it can cure everything usually cures nothing.


The medical establishment has been slow to look into the benefits of alternative and complementary medicine, but the explosion in their use has gotten its attention. Serious research is now under way, for instance, on whether supplements containing chromium can treat or prevent diabetes. Neither the American Diabetes Association nor the National Institutes of Health recommend them now, citing no support in the limited research to date. The ADA says further that no research upholds the idea that diabetics are deficient in chromium.

Download DietPower free trialThat won't stop the humble Dr. Joel Wallach, though. Wallach is the man endorsing American Longevity supplements (in this case SweetEze, with 100 percent of your chromium needs), and the doctor who's convinced that every major disease known to man can be blamed on the lack of minerals. He's also the doctor who claims, without documentation, that doctors die younger than the population at large. Moreover, he cites a nonexistent government document stating that 100,000 young Americans drop dead of heart attacks each year while playing sports because they're selenium deficient.

Wallach has made good sport of trashing the medical establishment while at the same time pretending to belong to it. Why should we trust his word on chromium supplements? Because, he says repeatedly, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1991. The problem is that he was nominated by the Association of Eclectic Physicians, a group with about as much standing with the Nobel committee as Dr. Pepper. Sending an unsolicited nomination guarantees no response, let alone a prize, just as sending an unsolicited invitation to Nicole Kidman doesnąt mean that she'll show up at your Oscar party.

If you'd like to nominate someone for a Nobel Prize, click here.

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