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Acupuncture treatment for Diabetes Type 2

Jan 13, 2018

Acupuncture treatment for Diabetes Type 2

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Accupuncture: A Promising Alternative Treatment For Diabetes Type 2 

Diabetes is defined as a disease characterized by an increased level of glucose in blood. It stems from the fact that the body is unable to transport glucose to the inside of cells. Thus, the level of glucose in the blood is too high, while cells starve to death.

Two Types of Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes : insulin dependent, is caused by the lack of insulin because of damage in the Islets of Langerhans.
Type 2 diabetes : insulin-independent, is a metabolic disease, often linked with obesity. Primarily, it is characterized by resistance to insulin, relative lack of insulin and hyperglycemia.


Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the modern world . The World Health Organization estimates that there are 347 million people suffering from diabetes. It is projected that, the prevalence of total diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in the United States will increase from one to one in 10 adults to between 1 in 5 and 1 in 3 adults in 20503.

Recommended Treatments

It will be a surprise that the prevention and treatment of diabetes constitutes a serious challenge for modern medicine. In the case of type 1 diabetes, patients are treated with insulin, which is not produced by damaged cells of the pancreas. For a number of patients, everyday injections and diet are a problem. However, it has been emphasized that the production of insulin has a breakthrough in the treatment of this potential lethal disease. In patients with type 2 diabetes, a change of lifestyle is recommended. The use of insulin is not recommended until it is necessary.

It is uncommon that diabetes is incurable. Desperate patients sometimes resort to non-standard methods of treatment, such as Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Hypoglycemic Action of Acupuncture

In a group of obese women, electro-acupuncture resulted in an increased level of insulin in plasma. Additionally, the increased level of C-peptide –cut from a particle of proinsulin during the release of insulin from pancreas to blood, was tested.
In an older study by Szczudlik, at first a slight decrease of insulin level five minutes after the procedure was observed, and then an increase of insulin level after 30 minutes.
What is more, in a contemporary study by Turkish researchers, a significant decrease of glucose levels in blood was observed. In the discussed review, fourteen studies conducted on animals, mostly rats, were included. Because of a large discrepancy of used interventions and technical parameters of simulations, it is difficult to draw any conclusions. However:

Electro-acupuncture in healthy rats resulted in a decrease of glycemia(blood glucose levels), whilst insulin and β-endorphin levels increased.
In studies on rats with type-2 diabetes, electro-acupuncture caused a decrease of glycemia and an increase in insulin levels.
Studies on rats with type-1 diabetes provided divergent results, which may be partially justified by insufficient stimulation of points. In a study, in which electro-acupuncture with current of 10 mA and frequency of 15 hz was applied to acupuncture point st-36 for 30 minutes, there was a significant reduction of glycemia.

Acupuncture and Insulin Resistance

Increased resistance to insulin is one of the causes of type-2 diabetes. In 2010, a review of literature studying the influence of acupuncture on insulin resistance was published. After analyzing 234 articles, the authors concluded that there is evidence confirming the efficacy of acupuncture as a method of treatment of insulin resistance; although, it is limited.

Acupuncture in Diabetic Polyneuropathy

Further information regarding the influence of acupuncture on metabolism in patients with diabetes is based on clinical studies of efficacy of this method in treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy.

Published in a 2006 study, the efficacy of two different acupuncture protocols and a pharmacological therapy in the treatment of polyneuropathy stemming from diabetes were compared. In both acupuncture groups, acupuncture provided better results than pharmacotherapy. Moreover, there was a decrease of blood glucose levels in all groups and additionally, there was a decrease of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in both acupuncture groups.

The efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy was observed in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice9. The study included 46 patients; the period of observation was relatively long and amounted to one year. In 77% of patients, a significant improvement was noted. In seven of them (21%) symptoms disappeared completely. In patients who at the beginning used medications, 67% stopped using them entirely, or significantly reduced the dosage. No complications were observed during the study.

One of the possible mechanisms contributing to the high efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy may be its influence on local levels of nitrogen and improvement of circulation.

Moxa Treatment in Type-2 Diabetes

Because of the popularity of this therapy in Eastern Asia 's countries, a review of literature has been prepared (source). The results of 5 studies were discussed. Because of its heterogenity, it is impossible to draw clear conclusions. However, results of particular studies indicate that moxibustion therapy may have a positive influence on glycemia. Combined with acupuncture, moxibustion is an effective method of regulating the level of glucose in blood and urine, and also the level of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c).

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