Letters to the Editor

Mar 1, 1999

Goat's Rue is Back on the List

Thank you for the article on herbs ("Herb Buyers Beware," December 1998). About 1 1/2 years ago I did a compilation of herbs for use in diabetes. On my list I had goat's rue. Because I was going to use it in my education program, I had to have it approved by our physician who specialized in complementary medicine. She deleted goat's rue, as she was not familiar with it and could not find any information in her books, most of which were written by Varro Tyler and Michael Murray. I am now going to include it again in my handout. Thank you.

Karen Lovvorn, RN, BS, CDE
Santa Rosa, California

Editor's note: Following is the excerpt from the story in which goat's rue is discussed:

Glucophage, the popular treatment for type 2 diabetes made by Bristol-Myers Squibb, is an example. Glucophage, the brand name for the drug metformin, comes from goat's rue, a plant native to Europe. According to Life magazine, goat's rue has been used since the Renaissance to lower blood sugars and in 1958 it was converted into the pharmaceutical Glucophage in France. The U.S. FDA approved Glucophage in 1995 and in 1997 it generated $579 million in sales for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

ProBeta Story Puts Posts on the Web

Editor's note: The following two letters appeared on our diabetes email talk list. They address the January story on ProBeta, "The Fountain of Youth for Beta Cells?"

The [ProBeta] story was interesting to read until I saw that the company had purchased a full-page color ad that appeared later in the issue. I felt hoodwinked.

Reynolds, North Dakota

I was excited to find, finally, some studies done using humans to show the effects of this ancient herb. Finally, we have reason to shout about it. Gymnema [sylvestre] has been used in India for centuries and is known by its local name, sugar eater. It is usually prepared as a tea. I tried the tea about a year ago and I can tell you it tastes so bad that I just couldn't stand the idea of drinking it three times a day.

The good news is that it truly does work. About a month ago I started taking two Gymnema tabs about half an hour before meals with a good long drink of water. Results? My blood sugars are now better.

But hold on, I am not a doctor and it's only been a month, so please be careful.

Marge King
Walnut Creek, California

More Remarks on ProBeta

Quite a remarkable article on ProBeta. I look forward to follow-up articles on the progress of research or anecdotal results.

I am a counselor working to help diabetic disabled people manage their diabetes. Thanks.

Gordon Waters
San Rafael, California

An Alarm Watch Keeps a Mother At Ease

I would like to share some information with other people whose lives are affected by diabetes. Recently I read an article in a local paper about a multiple alarm watch. This seemed like the perfect gift to help my 11-year-old daughter with diabetes remember her snack and meal times. I wasn't able to find it on my own, so my husband called the family in the article

The multiple alarm watch we were able to find is a Casio, model number 1600. They come in men's and women's styles and are stylish enough for even my fashion-conscious daughter. It allows you to set as many as five alarms during a 24-hour period. It can even write a small message, like snack or test. I bought my daughter's watch at Sears.

My daughter likes it very much. Now she knows when it's time for morning snack without her teacher watching the clock. The alarm is just enough to get her attention, but not annoying. I know I feel better when I'm not with her.

Gigi Gearhart
Clearfield, Pennsylvania

A 12-Year-Old Tells Her Story

Editor's note: Mandi Howell, age 12, wrote this essay for school.

On April 6, 1998, I went to the clinic and found out I have diabetes. I was scared and I had no idea what it was or what it meant to my life.

I was 11 years old and very frightened and didn't know what to do, but I watched movies and read books on diabetes.

Nine months later, I'm sitting at my desk in school with As and Bs and that makes me realize that diabetes isn't really that horrible. At times though, I sit at home and just break down into tears wondering when I'll die, if I'll be young or old, or if I'll live a wonderful life. Then I come to terms with myself, thanking God that I'm healthy, I have a wonderful family, and I know I'll live through this.

Mandi Howell
Naturita, Colorado

On Plasma Versus Whole-Blood Calibration of Meters

To my mind there is little to justify this new "calibration." Plasma-calibrated meters are nothing but capillary whole-blood meters that are adjusted with an arbitrary scale factor. They have little to do with venous plasma meters, such as those found in the lab. Any comparison between the two should only be done by a physician or lab technician armed with knowledge of the patient's actual hematocrit and any meals eaten prior to taking the samples.

David R.L. Worthington
La Honda, California

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