Complementary and alternative medicine use in diabetes mellitus

West Afr J Med. May-Jun 2010;29(3):158-62. doi: 10.4314/wajm.v29i3.68213.


Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), an emerging aspect of the management of chronic diseases worldwide is not widely studied in Nigerian patients with diabetes mellitus (DM).

Objective: To assess the frequency and pattern of CAM utilization in people with DM .

Methods: This was a cross-sectional question-naire survey involving 263 patients with DM. Biodata, duration of DM, type and pattern of CAM utilization and adherence to prescribed medications were documented. The prevalence and possible determinants of CAM utilization were evaluated by determining the odds ratio for independent variables.

Results: There were 263 respondents with a mean age of 60 (10.7) years and with ages ranging from 28-80 years. The prevalence of CAM usage was 46% and the female: male ratio was 2:1. Generally, CAM users were older than non-CAM users, (p= 0.006). The main forms of CAM used were biological based therapies and these included bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), aloe vera, garlic, ginger, anlocal herbs. Adherence to prescribed medications was observed by 94% of respondents.

Conclusion: We found that CAM usage is an important facet of management of DM among our patients with biological based therapies being the prevalent forms of CAM utilized. Despite CAM usage, adherence to prescribed medications was high. Further evaluation of the impact of CAM on glycaemia is needed.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents