It is estimated that 25.8 million men, women and children in the United States have diabetes. In Hawaii, there are 128,000 cases of diagnosed Diabetes and over 39,000 cases of undiagnosed (source).
What Is 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.
The Cause of Diabetes
According to the AMA, The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. Based on my experience treating patients over the last 25 year who have Diabetes in their family, I have found that overconsumption of simple sugars, and animal proteins contribute to the condition of toxic gut syndrome which left untreated can predispose to Diabetes as well as it’s many complications- such as heart disease, hypertension, eye problems, kidney disease, nervous system disease, periodontal disease, amputation, fatigue, depression, and complications during pregnancy. In my practice, we always begin by treating the underlying conditions. If there is a sweet tooth, or a craving for carbs, then the body is harboring fungus other wise known as yeast, or Candida Albicans. This invasive microorganism must be brought to a balance that the body’s ecosystem can manage.
Diabetes Treatment and Management
When treating a patient who tends toward overweight or overeating, telling them to watch what they eat is not enough. Nor is it enough to suggest that they exercise. Typically, when one feels good, they want to be active. Patients that are so sluggish that the thought of exercising is debilitating, need to be evaluated for other metabolic disorders like hormonal imbalance. Often times, there is a clinical or sub-clinical imbalance in one or more of the thyroid, adrenal or reproductive hormones that are rarely tested in your doctor’s office. A qualified naturopathic doctor who is trained in, and specializes in balancing the whole body can assist you in learning what is going on, on all levels.
In order to manage diabetes, it is essential for people to make healthy lifestyle choices in diet, exercise, and other health habits. Another important factor when treating diabetes is creating a support team of health care professionals. This support team may include your primary doctor, a qualified, licensed naturopathic doctor, an eye doctor and a licensed acupuncturist.
Acupuncture treatments 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.
This particular imbalance produces heat that depletes the body’s fluids and Qi causing symptoms such as:
- 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 heal 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.
Acupuncture for Diabetes
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 for Diabetes
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! Or, an even more empowering approach would be to get a comprehensive Naturopathic Evaluation, as well as acupuncture. The benefits are far reaching. Not only will your blood sugar levels come down, your belly fat will be reduced, the bloating will lessen, your energy will improve and you will feel more confident that you are taking the necessary steps to becoming a healthy individual.