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Acupuncture Alleviates Diabetes

Acupuncture helps to manage diabetes

Acupuncture, as a practice has been found to treat a lot of diseases and conditions like chronic pain, infertility, headaches. While the efficacy is under study by scientists and health experts, many practitioners say this traditional Chinese therapy can also prove to be beneficial in treating Type-2 diabetes. By piercing the skin with special needles that focus on the trigger areas, special "activation" points are stimulated.

As a treatment methodology, acupuncture lays emphasis on fighting the symptoms from the root. Since diabetes is a problem that arises from a hormonal imbalance in the endocrine system and makes you experience pain, acupuncture needles stimulate the same endorphins, releasing positive energy and subsiding any pain that may come along. Acupuncture can also fight the many risks and side effects that come along with diabetes, regulate pancreatic function and maintain insulin levels. In the long run, regular acupuncture can also fight obesity.

Doctors say that acupuncture primarily improves these five bodily functions:

  • Help regular weight gain and manage it better.

  • Improve blood glucose levels in a diabetic patient.

  • Protect the pancreas and stop the level increase in insulin production.

  • Improve insulin resistance.

  • Manage and better the production levels of important hormones in the body, such as melatonin, insulin, glucocorticoid, epinephrine.

How it works

Traditional healers believe that acupuncture works best when low-intensity waves are passed through the body. Usually, acupuncture treatment for diabetes takes 20-30 minutes, which are conducted for a minimum of two sittings per week. Depending on the case history and progression of the disease, the acupuncturist can also suggest more frequent sittings. Most practitioners prefer to use two types of acupuncture for the management of diabetes and prevent the problem from worsening or impacting essential bodily functions:

1. Electroacupuncture

This is the most commonly used form of acupuncture, where needles are inserted in trigger points and then a low-frequency electrical variation is passed from one needle to another, which then helps fight insulin resistance and sensitivity.

2. Wrist-ankle treatment

Wrist-ankle treatment is another form of acupuncture which focuses on deep stimulation of the trigger point. It is most helpful in bringing down sugar levels and improving quality of life.

3. Herbal acupuncture

A fairly new development in the field of acupuncture, this treatment involves the use of special herbs, which are straightaway injected into the targeted acupuncture points.

With regular approach, acupuncture triggers the hormonal secretion in the body, which then helps the body in maintaining harmony in the parts of the body where sugar levels are mismatched, without causing additional side-effects. Hence, acupuncture is often preferred as a treatment plan which can go along with regular medicinal use.

Acupuncture and moxibustion

Acupuncture and moxibustion are effective for the treatment of diabetes. Researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with moxibustion has a total effective rate of 84.78% for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The researchers from the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine also investigated the implementation of acupuncture as a standalone therapy. Without moxibustion, acupuncture had a total effective rate of 69.57%. As are result, the researchers conclude that the combined therapy produces superior patient outcomes.

Acupuncture and acupuncture plus moxibustion caused significant improvements in enteroinsular axis indicators and lipids for type 2 diabetics. Specifically, the total effective rate was determined by measurements of several clinical factors including changes in the following:

  • Insulin Sensitivity Index (ISI)

  • Fasting Insulin (FINS)

  • Fasting Leptin (FLP)

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)

  • Homa Insulin Resistance Index (Home-IR)

  • Insulin Secretion Index (Homa-β)

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)

  • HDL increases

  • LDL decreases

  • Total cholesterol

  • Triglycerides

The acupuncture points used in the study included the following primary acupoint selections:

  • BL29, Pishu

  • LV13, Zhangmen

  • BL21, Weishu

  • CV12j, Zhongwan

  • LV14, Qimen

  • BL23, Shenshu

  • GB25, Jingmen

  • SP6, Sanyinjiao

  • CV6, Qihai

  • CV4, Guanyuan

  • ST36, Zusanli

  • DU4, Mingmen

Moxibustion was applied to acupoints CV6, CV4, ST36, and DU4. Two groups were tested with acupuncture, one with moxibustion and one without. Both groups were given acupuncture treatments at a rate of once every other day for three months. Total needle retention time for each acupuncture session was 30 minutes. Acupuncture with moxibustion achieved an 84.78% total success rate and standalone acupuncture achieved a 69.57% total effective rate.

Hu et al. had similar findings; acupuncture combined with moxibustion was more effective than standalone acupuncture for the treatment of diabetic gastroparesis. This condition involves delayed gastric emptying due to diabetic neuropathy affecting the vagus nerve, which controls the movement of food in the digestive tract. In gastroparesis, the stomach takes excess time to empty its contents. This can lead to spikes in blood glucose levels. Symptoms include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gastroesophageal reflux, poor appetite, and weight loss.

Hu et al., from the Shanghai University of TCM, used the following acupuncture points: ST36, PC6 (Neiguan), CV12. Moxibustion was added to CV12. This protocol was found more effective than adding electroacupuncture to acupoint ST36. In addition, the moxibustion protocol was more effective than injecting 1 ml of Huangqi (Astragalus) extract into each acupoint.

The findings of Li et al. and Hu et al. demonstrate that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of general diabetic concerns and diabetic gastroparesis. However, the combination of acupuncture and moxibustion increases clinical efficacy. Both research teams conclude that acupuncture combined with moxibustion is an important and effective treatment protocol for the treatment of diabetes.

References: Li, Y. Q., Wang, Y. D., Liu, Z. C. & Xu, B. (2014). Observation on Clinical Effect of Conventional Acupuncture with Warm Acupuncture on Female type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) Patients of Dual Deficiency of Yin and Yang Syndrome. World Science and Technology – Modernisation of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 16 (8).

Liu Z C, Sun F M, Zhu M H, et al. Effect of acupuncture on insulin resistance in Non-Insulin-Dependent diabetes mellitus. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 2004, 2(6):8-11.

Hu, Z. H., Wang, Y., Huang, J. Y., Xu, J. H., Jiang, Z. F. & Wang, S. S. (2014). Research for Optimizing the Acupuncture-moxibustion Treatment Protocol for Diabetic Gastroparesis. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 33 (12).

He, Y. C., Liu, J. H. & Li, Y. Y., et al. (2003). Electroacupuncture treatment on 25 cases Type 2 Diabetic Gastrointestinal Dysfunction and its Short Term Treatment Effectiveness. New Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 35(2): 46.

Tong, Z. H. (1999). The relationship between Diabetes and Diabetic Gastroparesis. Bulletin of Science and Technology. 15(6): 457-461.

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