Treatment of diabetes with acupuncture has been effective in reducing blood sugar levels, especially in individuals with type 2, non-insulin dependent diabetes, the most common form of diabetes. Acupuncturists have identified about 20 body acupoints that are effective in lowering blood sugar.
The Chinese medical approach to diabetes identifies its initial onset as due to a deficiency in yin. The yin deficiency causes an imbalance in yin and yang, resulting in a yang deficiency. In advanced diabetes, these yin and yang deficiencies result in impairment of Qi. An unhealthy diet of excessive amounts of fatty and sweet foods exacerbates the condition.
The main acupuncture points effective in treatment of diabetic symptoms and conditions include quchi, sanyinjiao, zusanli, and yishu. Supplemental points, combined with these main points in treatments to produce increased symptom improvements, are yuj, guanyuan and baihui.
Acupuncture points are chosen based on the diabetic medical history, and specific stage of diabetes advancement. Treatments and acupuncture points selected are highly differentiated from individual to individual.
Diabetes is often treated with a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas that have a hypoglycemic effect, such as Baihu Jia Renshen Tang, Bawei Dihuang Wan, Yu Quan Wan, Liuwei Dihuang Wan, and Fangfeng Tongsheng San. The herb Ginseng, found in several herbal formulas that treat diabetes, plays a significant role in lowering glucose levels.
Treatment may involve acupuncture applied to up to a dozen acupoints for a single session. A course of acupuncture therapy for diabetes is typically long-term, as acupuncture can treat symptoms but not cure diabetes. The treatment course may consist of one to two sessions per week, with number of weekly sessions dependent upon improvement in symptoms and decline in blood sugar levels.
Acupuncture treatment for diabetes is most effective for those individuals who have had diabetes for only a few years, and have a milder disease manifestation. Diabetic acupuncture is also most effective in treating diabetes in younger individuals. Diabetics receiving acupuncture also experience a decline in cholesterol levels and have fewer medical complications, such as cardiovascular diseases.
Diabetic acupuncture can also help diabetics in the following ways: Attenuate symptoms of polyphagia, (impulse to overeat), polydipsia, (excessive thirst), enhance blood outflow and regulate vascular peripheral resistance, increase cell proliferation, and prevent slowing of motor nerve conduction.
Diabetic acupuncture treatment programs can also reduce the prolonged healing time of diabetic non-healing skin wounds such as ulcers.