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Alternatives to Insulin for Diabetics?

In our series, "Ask It Early," CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton answered questions from viewers and "Early Show" weather anchor and features reporter Dave Price.

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Chris in Florida asked Ashton if there are alternatives to insulin to control diabetes.

Ashton's Answer: There's insulin, and other types of medications in pill form. There's also a lot in the alternative or complementary world. Spices like cinnamon have started to be studied. People taking about a gram of cinnamon in capsule form have seen a reduction in their blood sugar levels. We want to caution people who are diabetic. They should not stop their insulin and start taking cinnamon.

The other thing that's kind of non-pharmacologic is bariatric surgery, also known as lap band surgery. We have seen amazing results with diabetics, even before they start to lose weight.

We don't know what it is about the surgery, but even within days of the surgery, people who are diabetic are seeing a normalization of their sugar levels.

There are different types of diabetes, but most promising for diabetes linked with obesity, dramatic weight loss, alternative and complementary things work well in conjunction with other medications.

Pam asked Ashton on Twitter, "How can I get help for tinnitus."

Ashton's Answer: Tinnitus, according to, is a ringing, swishing, or other type of noise that seems to originate in the ear or head. In many cases it is not a serious problem, but rather a nuisance that eventually resolves.

It is not a single disease, but a symptom of an underlying condition. Nearly 36 million Americans, according to suffer from this disorder. In almost all cases, only the patient can hear the noise.

There are lot of causes for it -- anything from wax in the ear to sometimes people get foreign bodies, such as things stuck in the ear, chronic inflammation or even loud music.

Really well-known musicians like Eric Clapton have gone public with tinnitus. This is very annoying, and anything from medication, antidepressants, tranquilizers, sedatives, antihistamines, are used to treat it. Obviously, you want to treat the problem if you know what that is, but I like the complementary round of tinnitus because it is a problematic thing for people to live with. Things like craniosacral therapy or biofeedback, even acupuncture can be really effective in lessening the symptoms. You want to see an ear, nose and throat therapist.

"Early Show" weather anchor and features reporter Dave Price asked Ashton, "Jen, I got frostbite in my toes 15 years ago covering Groundhog Day, and since then any time the temperature goes below 40 degrees, I go numb, my feet heat up and I have a painful itch below my skin. Are you more prone to get frostbite once you've gotten it -- and what's the difference between these symptoms and nerve damage?

Ashton's Answer: Be careful. This is a very serious issue. In fact, frostbite can present sometimes with numbness or tingling, but other times with itching. And it can be caused not only by freezing temperatures, but dehydration when you're in severe cold and extreme temperatures. And it really is like a one-two punch. It's the dehydration that comes with low temperatures, as well as the absolute temperature. And it does cause nerve and tissue damage. And it is really painful. If you think you are getting symptoms of frostbite, like itching, white discoloration of your skin, sometimes blisters, you want to get out of the cold, warm that body part up as quickly as possible, and see a professional medical person.

You can be more susceptible to it if you have had frostbite before because it does nerve and tissue problems. Some people may even need narcotic therapy.

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