Diabetes Medication

Two Pills You Can Skip

My friends say I take so many pills that I shouldn’t have to eat. I do take quite a few vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements as well as a few prescription medicines.

Actually, until recently I have always eaten a lot. But it is Byetta rather than pills that is putting a damper on my appetite and has reduced my food intake to less than they feed prisoners.

And now I can stop one of the pills I have been taking and avoid taking another one that I had considered.

A German study published in the May 17, 2006, issue JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that policosanol, sold as a natural remedy for high cholesterol, doesn’t work.

The Germans studied 143 adults with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels of 150mg/dl or more. At random the people studied took doses of 10, 20, 40, and 80mg of policosanol or placebo. But when the study finished three months later, the researchers didn’t find any significant differences in the cholesterol levels of the people in the study.

I had thought that policosanol would help reduce cholesterol and wrote about it in my article on cholesterol. I took two of those 20mg pills after dinner every night for several years. I probably will keep on taking policosanol until my supply runs out, but I won’t buy any more. It certainly didn’t bring down my cholesterol level to where it should be.

The other pill is even better known than policosanol. It is the mineral chromium.

This time it is the Dutch who studied the pill. Eight M.D.s and Ph.Ds working in The Netherlands wrote in the March 2006 issue of Diabetes Care.

For six months they studied about 50 insulin-using type 2s who have high A1Cs and who weigh too much. The subjects took 500 or 1000 micrograms of chromium every day or a placebo. But the chromium didn’t lead to any better A1C levels than the placebo.

I had already had my doubts about chromium and voiced them in an article. But until this research came out, it had seemed that maybe I should consider taking chromium.

These articles look like good science. They are randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of a medical treatment. There isn’t any higher standard.

These studies aren’t perfect. The doses and the particular composition of what they are testing may be different from what you are taking. That could be the problem with contradictory studies of cinnamon that I recently reported here.

Still, it’s actually a relief to know that there are two pills we don’t need to take. We can still eat something instead.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • Reply Phyllis January 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I don’t know whether you eat whole eggs or not. If not, try adding some to your diet. You should see a drop in your bad cholesterol. Since the body makes cholesterol in order to feed the heart and neural system when there isn’t enough of the proper cholesterol, such as in egg yolks ingested. So, there you are, with a body saying it needs cholesterol and doctors giving you a pill to stop the liver from producing it. People are experiencing neuropathy, memory loss, and more on the statins because their system is being deprived of one of the most important substances to the body.

  • Reply Arun Prabhu May 17, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Here is an interesting insight on the effects of alprazolam on blood sugar control. Though this may be slightly off tangent on this thread.


  • Reply David Mendosa January 24, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Dear Saddaf,

    Good question. The latest news is that Actos, the brand name of the pioglitazones, “still appears to be safe,” as I wrote here at http://www.mendosa.com/blog/?p=847

    Note the cavaet “appears.” I personally have some concern about it. After all, at one time Avandia still appeared to be safe. And Rezulin, the third member of this class of drugs, once was considered safe. It’s a tough call, and one that is up to you to decide.

    Best regards,


  • Reply saddaf January 24, 2011 at 3:33 am

    dear david
    can you update me on ‘ pioglitazones’ and risk of heart failure and weight gain?


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