It is estimated that 25.8 million men, women and children in the United States have diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the risk for death is approximately twice that of persons of similar age without diabetes.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used to treat diabetes for over 2000 years. A patient with “Xiao Ke” or “wasting and thirsting disease” (the Traditional Chinese medical term for diabetes) is discussed in detail in the Nei Jing, a classic Chinese medical book written about 2,500 years ago. The patient is described as having symptoms of excessive hunger and thirst, frequent urination and rapid weight loss; all symptoms of diabetes.
Diabetes according to Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, diabetes is caused by an imbalance of the cyclical flow of Qi within the meridians and organ systems.
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Excessive Thirst (Polydipsia)
- Excessive Urination (Polyuria)
- Excessive Eating (Polyphagia)
- Poor Wound Healing
- Blurry Vision
How Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Treats Diabetes
In treating diabetes, Oriental medicine offers a way to address each patient individually to eliminate the symptoms associated with diabetes and reduce the need for insulin. The practitioner may choose to use a variety of techniques during treatment including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises. The treatment for diabetes will focus on regulating the circulation of blood and Qi and balancing the organ systems to improve pancreatic function and address internal heat and the depletion of fluids.
The acupuncture points used to treat diabetes are all over the body and on several meridians. A point on the back, called ‘Yishu‘ (located on the back, lateral to thoracic vertebrae 8) is often used and has proven effective in recent studies published by the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine for controlling the function of the pancreas and blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicine is an important component to the treatment of diabetes. Different formulas may be effective for different people, so practitioners may try several different approaches. Commonly used Chinese herbal formulas are Liu Wei Di Huang, and Da Bu Yin Wan. Studies have shown that American ginseng can improve glucose tolerance and is often added to herbal formulas. Other herbs are added to an herbal formula to treat complications of diabetes such as peripheral neuropathy and blurry vision.
Should I try acupuncture for diabetes?
When treating diabetes, acupuncture and Oriental medicine can assist the body to regain its normal healthy functioning. Add acupuncture and Chinese medicine to your arsenal when fighting diabetes!