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Acupuncture for Diabetes

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Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States with many as 26 million adults and children (8.3% of the population, based on the statistics provided by the American Diabetes Association) suffering from it.  It is a degenerative and chronic disease that unfailingly increases each year among children and adults in the United States. In just a single year (2012), about 1.3 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes has two types: diabetes mellitus or Type 1 diabetes is often seen in young adults and children. Type 1 diabetics have bodies that are incapable of producing insulin. They are totally reliant on insulin outside their body.

Adult –onset or Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in the US and it affects over 15 million Americans. This type of diabetes is caused by the body’s improper use of insulin causing the insulin to accumulate in the bloodstream. This accumulation can result in complications like osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, fatigue, amputation, gangrene, periodontal disease, nervous system disease, kidney disease, eye problems high blood pressure and heart disease.

Even being a longstanding disease, people with diabetes can manage to live healthy and long lives through right lifestyle and diet changes and the correct medical treatment. Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture can be an effective treatment plan to help control diabetes and its symptoms as well as help decrease the reliance in medications.

Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture have been a treatment for diabetes for thousands of years.  The Chinese refer to diabetes as a thirsting and wasting disease brought about by an imbalance of yin and qi that leads to heat consuming the fluids of the body causing heat-like symptoms such as dry mouth, itchy skin, swollen gums, irritability and excessive thirst.

During acupuncture therapy, ultra thin needles are used and inserted into certain parts of the body to nourish yin and bring back the normal flow of qi. The treatment aims to normalize the flow of qi and blood, enhance function of the pancreas, and remove internal heat and drying up of fluids.

Chinese herbal medicine can be used combined with acupuncture to address diabetes and its symptoms.  Some of the herbal formulas used for diabetes include:

Six Ingredient Pill with Rehannia or Liu Wei Di Huang Tang – this formulae resolves symptoms that usually accompany diabetes:  light headedness, weak low back, heat in the five palms (chest, feet or hands), night sweats, poor hearing, tinnitus and vertigo.

White Tiger plus Ginseng Decoction or Bai Hu Jian Ren Sheng Tang – lowers sugar levels by adding the levels of sugar stored in the liver. Symptoms it can relieve include restlessness, profuse sweating, extreme thirst, general weakness, general discomfort and fever.

Minor Bupleurum Decoction or Xiao Chai Hu Tang –helps in lessening the rate at which glucose goes in the bloodstream after meals.  Good if the diabetes happens along with HIV or due to complications brought about by hepatitis infection.

Major Bupleurum Decoction or Da Chai Hu Tang – helps lessen the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream. It also helps boost the effectiveness of insulin.   This formula is extremely effective if the diabetes develops along long-term gastrointestinal problems.

Nutritional supplementation, exercise and dietary changes are highly recommended to effectively control type 1 and type 2 diabetes; sometimes, they can even lead to its reversal.

Adhere to a regular exercise program to burn fat, and reduce glucose and insulin to better control your glucose.  Perform about a half hour of mild exercises like yoga, or walking each day.

Juice therapy – this is one of the best ways to get natural sugar. Drink the juice from lime in a glass of each day.

Eat a small portion of protein each mealtime – this will allow you to get better control of your glucose

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, simple sugars and saturated fats. Simple sugars are only needed when you need to balance an insulin reaction

Avoid refined carbohydrates – soda pop, fruit juice candy and white flour are off-limits to diabetics. Natural sweeteners that do not interfere with blood glucose levels like xylitol and stevia are much better substitutes.

Consume organic and low-fat whole foods diet – your diet should be rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, chicken and fish. These foods are high in fiber, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. Fiber can lower the surges in your blood sugar.

Consume 3 meals a day in moderate portions

Certain types of foods can help patients manage their diabetes much better when they are integrated in their diet. All of them can be found in health food stores and Asian markets.

Cinnamon – health experts recommend cinnamon for controlling blood sugar.  It also has anti-bacterial qualities and is effective enough to treat diarrhea, reduce appetite and relieve stomach pain.  Cinnamon can also boost vitality.

Mountain yam – long term intake of this food can help improve vitality for people recovering from weakness or illness due to old age.  Studies have proven that blood glucose levels falls down when eating mountain yam.

Bok choy – This cabbage family member can be used in stir-fries, but with the leaves and stems cooked separately since the stems take more time to be cooked right. Bok choy is rich in vitamins A and C as well as in fiber. According to Chinese dietary therapy this vegetable is used to lubricate the intestines, quench thirst and clear heat.

Bitter melon – this is a vegetable, not a fruit, and is readily available in Asian markets.  If you don’t like the bitterness, eat it while it is still green. Bitter melon can be rinsed and salted before it is eaten. Studies show that this vegetable possesses a compound that regulates blood sugar, which is helpful in controlling type 2 diabetes.

Black wood ear – this is an edible fungus with a pleasant crunch and a neutral taste.  It needs to be soaked in warm water before being served. Black wood ear can be used for salads, lightly cooked or stir fried or for soups.  It generates fluids and nourishes yin according to Chinese dietary therapy.

Zuobiao (Roy) Yuan is a licensed acupuncturist and a doctor of oriental medicine in Edina, MN.

Written by Valerie

June 6th, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Acupuncture

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